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Improvements proposed to historic preservation tax credit program

Apr 11, 2019

HARRISBURG– State Representatives Robert Freeman and Lee James and state Senators David G. Argall and Judy Schwank have introduced legislation that would make improvements to the state historic preservation incentive tax credit program.

The legislation would extend the program’s sunset date from 2020 to 2030 and increase the program’s annual cap to $30 million, matching the level provided in West Virginia’s program. Individual projects would be capped at $2.5 million.

“By enacting these changes, we would put Pennsylvania in a more competitive position with neighboring states allowing us to leverage more investment to rehabilitate older structures in our communities,” said Freeman, D-Northampton.

The bill would enhance the market value of credits by allowing credits to be transferred more easily and affording purchasers and transferees more certainty.

Under the bill, workforce housing would be offered a higher credit percentage. The measure also would provide the legislature with better reporting, including the list of projects awarded with tax credits, the amount of federal and/or state tax credits received by each project, the number of properties impacted by the tax credits, jobs created because of the tax credits and more.

“This proposal maintains the existing protections to ensure equitable distribution of tax credits across the state by region,” said James, R-Venango/Butler.

“Historic preservation tax credits have been very effective in encouraging development, at both the state and federal level,” said Argall, R-Schuylkill/Berks. “In many of these cases, these buildings were once the pride of the community and now unfortunately, they’re symbols of blight and urban decay.  I am hopeful that this legislation will allow Pennsylvania to transform more blighted historical buildings and encourage downtown revitalization.”

“This tax credit has had a great record of success in communities across the commonwealth,” said Schwank, D-Berks, the second co-sponsor of the Senate bill. “I know it has been impactful in third-class cities, like Reading, which I represent. This program is uniquely tailored to the commonwealth as we are fortunate enough to have many historic facilities.”

The legislators said they are happy to have the support of Preservation Pennsylvania, the statewide historic preservation advocacy organization.

“Pennsylvania’s rich history and wealth of historic buildings offers so many opportunities for an enhanced Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Other states with more robust tax credit programs have seen marked increase in the number of projects, the amount of investment, and the positive economic return on investments,” said Mindy Gulden Crawford of Preservation Pennsylvania.

“State historic preservation tax credits increase the use of federal historic tax credits and working together they rehabilitate abandoned and underutilized buildings, often returning them to the tax rolls; create new businesses and housing units; and create more jobs than new construction and several other industries in the state. More importantly, the state’s investment in the form of a tax credit is issued at the completion of the project after the private investment has been made.

“The reauthorization and expansion of this important program is good for Pennsylvania’s historic resources and for the economy,” Crawford said.

The bills are H.B. 1173 and S.B. 541.

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