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Main Street Advocacy Alert: Opportunity to Improve the Historic Tax Credit


September 28, 2021 | Main Street Advocacy Alert: Opportunity to Improve the Historic Tax Credit | By: Kelly Humrichouser, Director of Government Relations | 


Learn more about HTC provisions and the Congressional outlook. Join us for a webinar with staff of the NTCIC public policy team on Wednesday, October 6 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT. Register here.

Speak up now to enhance the Historic Tax Credit! Read on for background, facts and instructions to contact your Senators in support of important changes that would make the tax credit more impactful on Main Street. 

Congress is in the midst of finalizing two large spending packages: the bi-partisan infrastructure bill and the Democrat-led reconciliation bill. The ongoing development of the reconciliation package offers a key opportunity to create important changes to the Historic Tax Credit that can have a big impact on the redevelopment of historic buildings in commercial districts. The House Ways and Means Committee included these improvements in their version of the bill. Main Street advocates can reach out now to Senate offices to voice support for the inclusion of these provisions in the final bill.

About the Historic Tax Credit (HTC)

The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is an essential tool for Main Street revitalization. In fact, roughly half of the more than 44,000 rehabilitated buildings that have used the credit are projects with qualified rehabilitation expenses of less than $1 million, and over 40% of projects financed in the last fifteen years are in communities with populations of less than 25,000. At its current level of 20%, the tax credit can close the gap for developers of building rehabilitation projects on historic properties while ensuring that rehabilitation meets the Secretary of the Interior’s standards. Main Street advocacy helped retain this tool in the 2017 tax reform process. Now, our collective advocacy can help make important changes to the tax credit to attract more investment to Main Street, including the potential to permanently raise the credit to 30% for small projects.  

In mid-September, the House Ways and Means Committee considered the community development tax incentives to be included in the reconciliation bill. The following HTC provisions were included in the bill passed out of the Committee:

Rehabilitation Tax Credit

  • Sec. 135301. Temporarily Increasing the HTC From 20% to 30% for all projects. 
  • Sec. 135302. Permanent increase in the rehabilitation credit for small projects.  
  • Sec. 135303. Modification of substantial rehabilitation definition.  
  • Sec. 135304. Elimination of basis adjustment.
  • Sec. 135305. Modifications of tax-exempt use leasing rules.
  • Sec. 135306. Enabling HTC to be used for public school buildings. 

    Interested in reading the full text of the section-by-section breakdown of the infrastructure bill? Read it here (HTC on Pages 3 and 4).

    While these provisions were included in the House legislation, the ongoing negotiations on the overall size of the package mean that all are at risk of being eliminated from the final bill. Your outreach to Senate offices will have an impact on support for HTC in the reconciliation bill. Please reach out today.

    Take Action

    There are three easy steps you can take to maximize your outreach activities. Learn more about these steps below:

    Step 1: Review.
     Review the House section by section breakdown of the bill (HTC Page 3 and 4) and consider how these provisions will help support revitalization in your community. 

    Step 2: Reach Out. Call your Senate offices and ask your Senator to support the Historic Tax Credit enhancement provisions included in the infrastructure legislation.

    • Locate the names, phone numbers, and websites of your Senators here.
      • Send a message to your Senators through their website and select “tax” or “taxation” as the issue area, or
      • Call (during office hours) the offices of your Senators. Introduce yourself as a constituent and ask for the email address of tax staff.
    • Prepare Your Message
      • “Thank you for your previous support of the Historic Tax Credit. Provisions to enhance the Historic Tax Credit have been included in the House infrastructure budget reconciliation bill. These provisions are similar to the provisions of the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (H.R. 2294/S. 2266), which would greatly benefit our community. Please continue to support and protect these provisions as the bill moves forward.” 
      • Explain how enacting these provisions would benefit your Main Street. You can also find a list of successful HTC projects in your state here: HTC State Maps and Project Lists FY2002-2020 
      • Feel free to share the bill’s Section-by-Section Breakdown (HTC provisions on Pages 3 and 4) or copy and paste the HTC provisions in your message. 

      Step 3: Forward This Message. Share your experience with other HTC advocates and encourage further outreach! Be sure to use #HistoricTaxCredit when posting on social media.

      Next Steps

      Tune In: Interested in learning more about these HTC provisions and the Congressional outlook? Join us for a webinar with preservation policy experts to explore the current status on Wednesday, October 6 at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT. Register here.

      Listen: In a recent episode of PreserveCast, Merrill Hoopengardner, President and CEO of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, explains the details of these important changes. Listen in to learn more.

      Share: Please share responses from Senate offices and gain assistance with your advocacy by emailing: Mike Phillips, Shaw Sprague, and/or Patrick Robertson.

      Thank you for your advocacy! And thank you to our partners at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and National Trust Community Investment Corporation for their leadership on improvements to the Historic Tax Credits. 

      Meet the Author

      Kelly Humrichouser, Director of Government Relations: As the Director of Government Relations, Kelly leads Main Street America's (MSA) work to uplift the role of Main Street organizations to policy and decision makers. She works alongside MSA's 44 Main Street state, city, and country Coordinating Programs in defending and growing their programs and supports MSA's great network of Main Street programs in pushing for federal support for Main Streets.

      Read Kelly's bio.