Federal Historic Tax Credits Help Protect Community Assets

Federal historic preservation tax credits have been used to help pay for restoration of the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Station and the Wellman Building in downtown Jamestown.

The credits give developers an incentive to take the risk of repairing and improving old, sometimes dilapidated, buildings. As we have seen in Jamestown, when business people are willing to take that risk, it can pay off for them and the community.

But members of Congress, working with the White House, are crafting a tax reform bill. It is aimed at helping the middle class and encouraging business expansion. As part of the process to simplify tax preparation, some income tax credits may be eliminated.

Among them is the Federal Historic Tax Credit.

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, told Spectrum News earlier this month that he supports the federal historic tax credit. Reed was also the co-sponsor of 2015 legislation to increase the federal historic tax credit to 30 percent for projects less than $3.75 million that met certain conditions.

“Stay tuned,” Reed told Spectrum News. “We are working every angle, also our partners in the Senate in particular. So we have a Plan A. We have a Plan B, and as we go through this process we just ask you to bear with us.”

One of the goals of tax reformers is to eliminate some credit programs, replacing the incentives they provide with more general tax relief. But the federal historic tax credit, targeted as it is to communities such as ours which count beautiful, architecturally significant old buildings as among our greatest business assets, should not be killed.

The program creates opportunity in Jamestown to bridge gaps that allow hard-to-complete projects to happen. Congress should not pull the rug out from under it.

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