Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit spurs millions in economic activity in Illinois: Study

October 11, 2019

The Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC), which successfully stimulates investment in our nation’s historic places, contributed more than $520 million in output in terms of goods and services in Illinois and created nearly 4,000 new jobs across the state during fiscal year 2018, according to a new study. The report, conducted annually and prepared by Rutgers for the National Parks Service, also shows the Federal HTC led to $250.5 million added to Illinois’ gross domestic product during the year and brought in $194 million in income.

On a national level, the HTC resulted in $7.4 billion added to the U.S. GDP, contributed $14.4 billion in output and created 129,000 jobs during fiscal year 2018, according to the report. The Federal HTC provides a 20% federal tax credit to property owners who undertake a qualified rehabilitation on a historic building.

A new federal bill, called the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act, aims to build on the successes of the existing federal tax credit program and increase the credit for smaller projects from the existing 20% tax credit to 30% for qualified rehabilitations. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, who serves Illinois’ 18th District, introduced the legislation earlier this year, and Landmarks Illinois continues to work with the congressman to further the effort to expand the historic preservation tax credit program and make it available to projects both large and small.

Landmarks Illinois has spent much of the past decade advocating for historic preservation tax credits on the federal and state level, not only because they incentivize the reuse of historic buildings but because they revitalize communities across Illinois and the nation. Since 1978, when the Federal HTC was created, $162 billion in cumulative historic rehabilitation investment have resulted in $354 billion in output, $176.2 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and $129.6 billion in income, according to the Rutgers and NPS report. The number of new jobs created in the last 41 years totals 2.7 million thanks to the tax credit.

“The benefits of investment in HTC-related historic rehabilitation projects are extensive, increasing payrolls and production in nearly all sectors of the nation’s economy,” the report states.

In 2017, when the Federal HTC was under threat, Landmarks Illinois included it on its annual Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Successfully advocacy efforts by organizations across the nation, including Landmarks Illinois, helped retain this vital federal historic preservation incentive during tax reform.

Additionally, LI spent more than a decade advocating for a statewide historic preservation tax credit in Illinois. Landmarks Illinois provided research, expertise, bill language and mobilized partners to ensure successful legislation was created and passed on a state level. In 2018, LI celebrated the news the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill establishing a new statewide Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The bill was signed into law in 2019 and the first round of allocations of the new statewide tax credit were announced in August of this year.

Landmarks Illinois is also calling attention to the advocacy campaign to create a statewide historic preservation tax credit and this year’s Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards. At the October 18 Awards Ceremony in Chicago, LI will honor AIA Illinois with an Award for Advocacy for its persistent partnership with LI to make historic tax credits available statewide. Join us in celebrating this milestone by registering for the 2019 awards ceremony.

(Photo: Hotel Belleville, one of the sites included in the first round of allocations for the Illinois State Historic Tax Credit)

To view the full Rutgers/NPS report, click below.

FY 2018 HTC Report

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