(This is an update to an earlier call to action from December 2016.)
President-elect Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have prioritized moving tax reform legislation forward in the 115th Congress. A tax reform package could move quickly through Congress by way of the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority for passage in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes typically needed to cut off debate.
We expect that tax reform legislation will follow Speaker Ryan’s “A Better Way” blue print, released last summer. This document recommends eliminating tax credits and deductions as a way of raising revenue and simplifying the tax code, which would include many economic development credits including the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
The HTC is in grave danger of elimination in tax reform, and HTC advocacy is urgently needed in the weeks and months ahead. The HTC is the most significant federal financial commitment to historic preservation. Over the last 36 years, the credit has created 2.3 million jobs, leveraged $120.8 billion in investment, and rehabilitated more than 41,250 buildings—all while generating enough in federal tax revenue to more than pay for itself.
The Historic Tax Credit Coalition, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Trust Community Investment Corporation, and allied organizations are moving quickly to increase lobbying capacity. However, there is no substitute for the advocacy that you can provide at the state and local levels. Your assistance is critical!
We are hopeful that, if a sufficient number of senators and representatives convey their support for the HTC to party leadership and to members of the tax-writing committees, the HTC can be retained as an important part of a reformed tax code.
- Contact your representative in the House and both of your senators. Call or email the offices of your House and Senate members and ask to speak with tax staff.
- If your representatives are on the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee, urge that they please convey their “support of the Historic Tax Credit now that the drafting process for tax reform legislation is underway.”
- If your representatives are not on a tax-writing committee in the House or Senate, make sure they know how the Historic Tax Credit has helped rehabilitate buildings and transform communities in their state and Congressional district.
- Please let HTC campaign staff know of your outreach plans to help ensure coordinated messaging to the Hill.
- Host in-district meetings. Advocates are encouraged to host in-district/state meetings while Congress is in recess. Contact congressional offices, and ask about scheduling time with House and Senate members. If you have an opportunity, combine your meeting with a tour of a completed or potential HTC project. If members of Congress are unavailable, there is still significant value to meeting with local staff. These meetings should be coordinated with local preservationists, developers, architects, mayors, Main Street organizations, and others in order to convey that the HTC program impacts many constituent groups.
- Lobby in D.C. in 2017. Come to Washington, D.C., and lobby on behalf of the HTC on National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week 2017, March 14–16, or any time in 2017 that fits your schedule. Campaign staff are ready to help plan your visit. Please contact Mike Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Shaw Sprague (email@example.com), who can help you organize a D.C. visit and set up meetings with congressional offices.
Please ask your members of Congress to support the HTC as part of tax reform legislation that is expected to move through Congress this year. Explain the value of the HTC and be sure to describe rehabilitation success stories in your community.
- HTC talking points featuring key facts to share with legislators.
- HTC maps
- House Ways and Means Committee
- Senate Finance Committee
- More resources on Preservation Leadership Forum
How to Contact Your Members of Congress
- Locate the name and phone number of your House representative.
- Locate the names and phone number of your senators.
- Alternatively, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your senators' or House members' D.C. offices. Once connected to an office, you should identify yourself as a constituent and either ask to be connected with tax staff or ask for the email address of tax staff to communicate your advocacy. Make sure to follow up on your request.
- You can also send a message via our online advocacy alert.
Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act
The Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA) provided several reform options to enhance the HTC as part of a reformed tax code. While the opportunity to co-sponsor this bill has passed, we are encouraging our HTC champions to introduce similar legislation this Congress that will reflect the reform ideas that have broad political support and could be included in a tax reform package.
- Last year’s House version of the bill (H.R. 3846) attracted strong bipartisan support on the Ways and Means Committee and was supported by 53 members of Congress.
- Last year’s Senate version of the bill (S. 2655), sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., had seven bipartisan co-sponsors.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the campaign staff:
Thank you for advocating with your members of Congress!
Shaw Sprague is the director for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.