Tax Incentives for Preserving Historic Properties
The Cotocon Group can provide you with a detailed description of the information and documentation required to complete the application process for the Historical Preservation Certification. This information will help in assisting you on how to retain Historical Tax Credits.
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation
A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and site environment. The historic character of the property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
NYS Rehabilitation Tax Credit
Rehabilitation work on historic commercial/income producing structures may qualify for a tax incentive. The credit will cover 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs of structures, up to a credit value of $5,000,000.
How is the credit approved?
The work performed must meet federal preservation standards as established by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and be approved by the SHPO and the National Park Service. SHPO staff work with property owners to determine the best approaches to rehabilitation objectives. In general, projects should strive to retain and repair original, historic materials. In some communities you may need approval from a local historical commission, and we recommend that the review be coordinated with the state office early in the project planning stages.
The National Park Service (NPS) administers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and in partnership with State Historic Preservation Offices. The tax incentives promote the rehabilitation of income-producing historic structures of every period, size, style, and type. Through this program, underutilized or vacant buildings are returned to useful life in a manner that maintains their historic character. The Historic Preservation Certification Application must be submitted to the following agencies (in this specific order) prior to the transfer of information to the IRS:
- State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) – All parts of the application are submitted to the SHPO where staff members review the application for completeness and accuracy. They may request additional information necessary for their review. They may visit the property. When they have finished their review, they send the application to the NPS with a recommendation as to whether the project meets the Standards for Rehabilitation.
- National Park Service (NPS) – The NPS receives the application from the SHPO and sends the owner a bill for the review fee (no fee applies to Part 1 reviews). After the fee is paid, NPS staff members review the application and send the decision to the owner. Although every effort is made to follow the recommendation of the SHPO, the NPS decision may differ from that of the SHPO. By law, all certification decisions are made by the NPS.
Application Process (Required Information/Documentation)
A three-part application is required to qualify for the federal tax credit. Part 1 presents information about the significance and appearance of the building. Part 2 describes the condition of the building and the planned rehabilitation work. Part 3 of the application is submitted after the project is complete and documents that the work was completed as proposed. National Park Service approval of Part 3 certifies that the project meets the Standards and is a “certified rehabilitation.”
Part 1 – Evaluation of Significance
- The building is not individually listed in the National Register (currently listed with a Certification of Eligibility with NJHPO) so a submission of Part 1 is required to begin the process of requesting the SHPO to nominate the building or the district to the National Register.
- Part 1 decisions are made on the appearance and condition of the property prior to rehabilitation.
A “Description of Physical Appearance” is required in the application form and requires the following:
- Description of the major features of the building on both the exterior and the interior
- Description of the building in its present condition (before rehabilitation), not as it was when first built nor as it will be after rehabilitation. Note the architectural style, exterior construction materials (wood, brick, etc.), type of roof (flat, gable, hipped, etc.), number of stories, basic plan (rectangular, irregular, L-shaped, etc.), and distinguishing architectural features (placement and type of windows, chimneys, porches, decorative interior features or spaces).
- Description of changes made to the building since its construction (additions, porch enclosures, new storefronts, relocation of doors and windows) and interior alterations.
- Description of other buildings on the property.
- Discussion of how the building relates to others in the district or neighborhood in terms of siting, scale, material, construction, and date.
- The construction date and date(s) of alterations. Give the source of the date. Check the appropriate box if the building has been moved.
A “Statement of Significance” is required in the application form and requires the following:
- Summarization of how the building contributes to the significance of the district. The summary should relate to the significance of the district (including the district’s period of significance) as identified in the National Register nomination or district documentation.
- Document the relation to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Evaluating Significance within Registered Historic Districts. (Provide evidence that it is similar to other buildings in the district in scale, building materials, style, and period of construction. Note important figures from the past associated with the building, any former uses, and the name of the architect or builder, if known.)
The following Attachments are required for the Part 1 application submission:
- Photographs – Photos must be included that document the appearance and condition of the building’s exterior, interior, site, and environment prior to the start of rehabilitation (Parts 1 and 2) and after rehabilitation is complete (Part 3). Photographs must include the building name, view shown, description, and date is taken. They must also be numbered and keyed to both the description of proposed work in the application and plans of the building site. Photographs must be clear and must have sufficient resolution to show the details required for the review of rehabilitation work. Photographs must be in color, printed on photographic paper and at least 4” x 6” in size.
- Drawings – Drawings are required for proposed work to show planned alterations or new construction. They must show existing wall configurations and anticipated changes. Documentation should include floor plans and, where necessary, sections and elevations, and should be numbered and should be keyed to the application narrative.
- Where replacement windows are proposed, it must be demonstrated that the existing historic windows are deteriorated beyond repair. Detailed drawings of both the historic and the new windows must be submitted with the Part 2 application. Drawings must include the elevations and vertical and horizontal sections showing the windows in relation to the wall assembly. Typically, mechanical, plumbing and electrical plans generally do not contain information that is pertinent to this review. A detailed description of the location, size, and finish of these features should be included in the narrative.
- Maps and Site Plans – A map of the historic district, clearly identifying the lot on which the building is located, is required in Part 1 of the application.
Part 2 – Description of Rehabilitation
- This section describes rehabilitation work to be undertaken on the building and must be completed by all applicants seeking the Federal income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Part 2 will not be reviewed by the NPS until Part 1 has been filed and acted upon.
- The estimated rehabilitation costs must be reported on the form and are defined as the project’s total estimated “Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures,” or “QREs,” pursuant to section 47 of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Provide a Detailed Description of Rehabilitation Work – Describe all work that will be undertaken on the property by each individual feature and the work that will be done on it. Begin with site work, followed by the exterior, including new construction, and then the interior. Descriptions of each process such as masonry cleaning must be included in the application narrative. Include information relevant to the application of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and 36 CFR 67.7.