Op-Ed Response: The Historic Tax Credit Works

By Forum Online posted 09-23-2013 16:34

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Op-ed contributor, Michael Rubinger, who is chief executive of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, said as much in a recent editorial that appeared in the New York Times. He asked, “What does it take to fix a neighborhood in decline?” His answer? “Low income housing credits and new markets tax credits.” He describes a Cincinnati neighborhood that has rebounded from a crime-ridden eyesore to a desirable, safe, diverse community—all thanks to the availability of these two credits. But Rubinger cautions that these credits are in peril as Congress considers an overhaul of the tax code that seeks to eliminate deductions and credits. He concludes by saying, “Let’s not end what works.”

Preservationists would be quick to add that there is another credit that works. National Trust for Historic Preservation president Stephanie Meeks offered an answer in a letter to the editor that spotlights the important role the federal historic tax credit (HTC) plays in sparking revitalization, creating jobs and reviving community pride. Though her letter was not published, it gives a succinct description of how vital the federal tax credit is to our economy and quality of life.

To the Editor:

To Mr. Rubinger’s question of how to fix a neighborhood in decline, if one also wants to preserve our nation’s heritage, the answer is the federal historic tax credit.

The federal historic tax credit has a powerful track record of creating jobs, reviving abandoned neighborhoods and stimulating growth. By breathing life into vacant warehouses, hotels and more, this credit brings new hope and stability to historic neighborhoods, setting the stage for neighborhood revitalization.

Since its inception, the federal historic tax credit has leveraged more than $106 billion in private investment, created 2.3 million jobs and restored more than 38,700 buildings. Best of all, the total taxes generated by these projects more than cover the cost of the program. The federal historic tax credit is another tried and true program, like the new-markets tax credit and the low income housing tax credit, which should not be eliminated.

And so, the title of his recent op-ed should have been: “Three Tax Credits that Work.”

Championing the federal historic tax credit is more important now than ever as Congress takes up tax reform. Leaders in the Senate Finance Committee have announced they’re taking a “blank slate approach”—meaning all tax breaks, deductions and credits will be eliminated from their new tax bill and only those programs with strong advocates will be added back in. With the tax credit responsible for creating 2.3 million jobs, attracting $106 billion in investment and rehabilitating 38,700 historic buildings, we can’t afford to lose this vital tool. Nor can we afford to lose other credits that work, such as the ones Rubinger champions in his editorial.

More information about the credit, including how you can get involved in our fight to protect it during tax reform, and strengthen it through bipartisan legislation, the Creating American Prosperity through Preservation Act, can be found at www.SaveHistoricCredit.org. Look for more information on the various tax credits that can be combined with historic rehab credits in the upcoming winter issue of the Forum Journal.

#Advocacy #FederalHistoricTaxCredit #Economics

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