Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits

Through the Internal Revenue Code Section 47, the federal government offers lucrative rehabilitation tax credits to encourage preservation and adaptive reuse of historic and old buildings. The federal tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of federal income tax liability.

Calculated as a percentage of the eligible rehabilitation expenses, federal tax law offers a 20% tax credit for substantial rehabilitations of historic buildings, and a 10% tax credit for substantial rehabilitations of non-historic, non-residential buildings built before 1936. A substantial rehabilitation means that a taxpayer's rehabilitation expenditures during a 24-month or 60-month measuring period must exceed the aggregate "adjusted basis" of the building. The adjusted basis is generally defined as the purchase price, minus the value (or cost) of the land, plus the value of any capital improvements made since the building acquisition, minus any depreciation already claimed. In addition, because properties must be income-producing to qualify for rehabilitation tax credits, owner-occupied residences are not eligible.

The tax credit program for historic buildings is administered by each state's historic preservation office and requires approval from the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In contrast, the 10% rehabilitation tax credit for substantial rehabilitations of non-historic, non-residential buildings built before 1936 is a single IRS tax form submission and requires no federal or state involvement.