The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has been instrumental in promoting historic preservation and community revitalization through historic rehabilitation—and, in so doing, the program has also been instrumental in preserving the nation's heritage and the historic places that give its cities, towns, and rural areas their special character.
The program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the state historic preservation offices (SHPOs). In a three-part application process, the National Park Service certifies that a building is a historic structure, and therefore eligible for the program; and that the rehabilitation is consistent with the building's historic character and, where applicable, the historic character of the historic district in which it is located. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation are the basis for this determination.
The Technical Preservation Services (TPS) office administers the tax credit program for the National Park Service and develops historic preservation policy and guidance on the care and treatment of historic buildings. TPS is also responsible for the national standards and guidelines used in the tax credit program and also widely adopted at the federal, state, and local levels. The state historic preservation offices serve as the first point of contact for applicants to the program and make certification recommendations to the National Park Service, while the Internal Revenue Service is responsible for administering the tax benefit parts of the program.
The state historic preservation offices may have additional information related to the tax incentives program, and more than half the states also have a state historic tax credit program that can be used in tandem with the federal historic tax credits. Contact information for your SHPO is available at the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices website. [End Page 53]
TPS Website and Available Information
The Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program brochure provides an overview of the 20 percent historic rehabilitation tax credit program, the 10 percent non-historic tax credit program, and other tax incentives.
In 2011 the National Park Service launched an expanded and redesigned website at www.nps.gov/tps with detailed information on the historic tax credit program, including:
□ program basics to understand before you apply,
□ guidance on applying the rehabilitation standards to tax credit projects,
[End Page 54]
□ tax credit project case studies,
□ IRS information with frequently asked questions and answers,
□ a feature where applicants can check their project status, and
□ information about the appeals process.
The Secretary's Standards and Related Guidance
Other guidance and information that can be found on the website includes:
□ The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings, used in the administration of the tax incentives program;
The website also features web-based trainings that support the tax incentives program, including Incentives: A Guide to the Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program and The Illustrated Rehabilitation Guidelines, as well as other online training on preserving, restoring, and rehabilitating historic buildings.
The new site features expanded information on Sustainability and Historic Preservation, including the recently-published The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. [End Page 55]
For a glossary of real estate terms, click here.
Brian Goeken is Chief, Technical Preservation Services at the National Park Service.