It’s budget season, and we at Preservation Massachusetts have spent much of the past few months fighting, on both the federal and state levels, to preserve and improve the tax credits that serve as important tools for historic preservation in the Commonwealth.
Earlier this spring, Preservation Massachusetts staff traveled to Washington, D.C. with several other partners to take part in National Preservation Advocacy Week. It is a time where preservationists and others in the industry meet to discuss pertinent federal issues together and with members of Congress.
This year’s meetings took on added significance because, just prior our arrival in D.C., Rep. David Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed eliminating the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (FHRTC) as part of his tax reform plan. While it is unlikely Camp’s proposal will go anywhere, it could still serve as a blueprint for future attempts at tax reform. The message was clear, and Preservation Massachusetts delivered it to Congress: we need to preserve the FHRTC from elimination and reduction.
The FHTRC is a hugely important tool, not just for historic preservation, but for economic development and community revitalization. It is a program that developers have used in coordination with our own Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, with remarkable success. Since the MHRTC debuted in 2004, the average annual FHRTC allocation jumped from $61 million to over $200 million. In 2013, Massachusetts ranked second in the nation in the amount of federal tax credits allocated.
The Transformative Development legislation (HB 311) sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral, included important enhancements and changes to the MHRTC, making it an even more effective tool for economic development. Gov. Patrick incorporated many parts of the HB 311 into his own economic development legislation, but not the provisions on the MHRTC tax credit. We feel that this is a lost opportunity. Because the state and federal credits are often used together, failing to make these changes means, in effect, Massachusetts will be leaving federal money on the table.
For the sake of both historic preservation and economic development, we need to work to augment and improve our state historic tax credit, and to protect complementary federal programs. Preservation Massachusetts is proud to work with legislators on both Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill to that end.
Jim Igoe, President