On the Hill: The Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act Introduced

By Shaw Sprague posted 02-24-2017 11:20


Good news! On Thursday, February 16, legislation that would make important changes to the historic tax credit (HTC) was introduced in Congress. The bipartisan Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA, H.R. 1158/S.425) closely resembles legislation introduced in the last Congress and would improve access to the credit for smaller rehabilitation projects that help revitalize our small towns and our inner cities. 

Credit: Architect of the Capitol 

Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced the HTCIA in the House of Representatives, where it is supported by 18 members of Congress—nine Republicans and nine Democrats—eight of whom are members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced companion legislation in the Senate and were joined by Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. 

The HTCIA encourages redevelopment of smaller, income-producing properties by:

  •  Increasing the credit from 20 to 30 percent for projects with rehabilitation expenses of less than $2.5 million;
  • Simplifying the application process for small developers by allowing a one-time transfer of the credits as a tax certificate;
  • Making it easier to meet the substantial rehabilitation test; and
  •  Creating greater flexibility for nonprofit organizations to partner with developers in redevelopment projects.

Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor the HTCIA. 

Tax Reform Update

As the Trump administration works to implement its policy agenda, tax reform remains a leading priority. The president is expected to release an outline for tax reform in the near future, and many in Washington are closely watching to see whether the administration and Congress will reach consensus on the broad contours of a tax reform plan. A fundamental challenge emerged in recent weeks when a key funding mechanism in the House tax reform blueprint—the so-called “border adjustment tax” that would tax imports and exempt exports from taxation—was met with resistance in the Senate and apparent skepticism from the president. This obstacle has sent House tax writers back to the drafting table to identify new ways to fill the $1 trillion shortfall without increasing the national debt.

As a result, the process of developing tax reform legislation has slowed considerably from the administration’s ambitious 100-day agenda. Despite this setback, the House Ways and Means Committee is working to release a tax reform bill after the April budget process with a possible markup occurring as soon as May or June. House leadership and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, are still aiming to pass the chamber’s tax reform bill before the August recess. If legislative solutions do not manifest soon, however, tax reform could slip into the fall timeframe.

The Senate Finance Committee has not spent significant time developing its own tax reform bill due to its role in confirming cabinet nominees, advancing the Supreme Court nominee, and untangling the potential tax consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Nonetheless, in early February Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, made it known that he intends to develop his own tax reform bill instead of reacting to or amending a House bill. Senate Republican leadership, however, appears to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. For these reasons, it is anticipated that the Senate will follow the House in developing its approach to tax reform, with legislative action not likely to occur until after the August recess.

Take Action

The HTCIA provides members of Congress a way to indicate their support for the HTC and offers several reform ideas that could be incorporated into a larger tax bill. Adding cosponsors to the legislation is a critical step to protecting the HTC during the tax reform process.

Urge members of Congress to co-sponsor the HTCIA (R. 1158/S.425).

  1. Check to see whether your members of Congress have co-sponsored the bill:
  2.  Send your delegation an email encouraging co-sponsorship of the HTCIA.
  3. If you are an organization, request that your members reach out to your state’s congressional delegation to urge co-sponsorship.
Ask Senate and House members to meet “in-district” during the April 10–21 congressional recess.

  1. Contact district offices of both House and Senate members, and ask to schedule a meeting. 
  2. Amplify your message by:
    • Combining your meeting with a tour of a completed or potential HTC project;
    • Requesting a meeting with staff if a meeting with your representative is not possible;
    • Coordinating meetings with local preservationists, developers, architects, mayors, Main Street organizations, and others in order to convey the broad impact of the HTC program; and
    • Sharing the outcomes of your advocacy with HTC campaign staff (see contact information below).
Join the Federal Policy Webinar on March 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST

During “Policy Webinar: Bills Introduced & Getting Media for Historic Tax Credits,” learn which members of Congress have already co-sponsored the HTCIA, and hear what you can do to get more sponsors.

Outreach via traditional and social media is an excellent way to urge legislators to support the HTC. Learn tactics for extending the reach of your organization from National Trust for Historic Preservation staff—Andy Grabel, associate director of public affairs, and Sarah Heffern, director of social media. Also learn from your peers about the amazing advocacy work that they are undertaking to get members of Congress to support the HTC.

Register here.

Join advocates in Washington, D.C., for Preservation Advocacy Week.

  1. Visit Washington, D.C., and advocate for the HTC during Preservation Advocacy Week, March 14–16.
  2. If you plan to visit D.C. at some other time, email Mike Phillips or Shaw Sprague for help scheduling congressional visits. Contact information below. 


  1. Talking points
  2. Bill summary
  3. HTC Maps State and congressional district maps with economic impact data
  4. Interactive mapping tool developed by Novogradac & Company
  5. HTC Staff Contacts:

Thank you for speaking up in support of the federal HTC! With your ongoing engagement, the HTC will continue to revitalize our communities, stimulate the economy, and preserve our irreplaceable historic buildings.

#FederalHistoricTaxCredit #historictaxcredit #Economics #Lobbying #congress #Advocacy

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