The Republican plan to rewrite the U.S. tax code is a massive document with dozens of complex provisions. Folks in eastern North Carolina, however, ought to pay attention to one point in particular: the federal historic preservation tax credits.
As it is, when you repair and renovate a qualifying building, you get a 20 percent tax credit over a five-year period. That’s a hefty incentive to preserve a historic structure — a practice that’s pretty important here.
The House version of the tax bill eliminates the credit entirely. The Senate version keeps the tax credit, but adds some limitations.
The differences will have to be ironed out at some point. That means it’s time to start pressuring your congressmen and senators. Let them know that the preservation tax credit is important to our area and our economy.
The credit was originally passed in 1981 with strong conservative support. Conservatives, after all, are supposed to conserve the past. President Reagan was a strong advocate of the credits and even made a video message supporting it.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the credit generates $1.20 in new tax revenue for every dollar spent.
A 2015 study by the National Park Service and Rutgers University found that the credits had saved 42,000 buildings nationwide, generated $131 billion in private investment and created 2 million jobs in construction and related fields.
One of the beneficiaries of the credit, ironically, is one Donald J. Trump: According to The Washingtonian magazine, the president’s company received $40 million under the program for renovating the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., as a luxury hotel.
North Carolina has its own, smaller version of the tax credit. State lawmakers cut it a few years back, but preservationists, builders and municipalities howled so much, the credits were largely restored.
Preservation makes sense. Instead of filling landfills with waste and debris, it keeps vintage structures standing and vibrant. Call it architectural recycling.
Aside from dollars and sense, historic preservation helps cities establish a brand — to distinguish us from other towns.
Saving old buildings is good policy. Let’s not make it a harder task than it already is.
~Jacksonville Daily News