Fate of federal historic tax credit still in limbo

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The fate of the federal historic tax credit is still in limbo.

The tax credit, is a 20 percent income tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings, and it's administered by the federal government.

A tax reform bill that passed out of the House of Representatives last week eliminates the credit.

According to the Ohio History Connection, since the credit went into effect in 1976, "Cuyahoga County has had 295 federal tax credit projects with a total investment of $2.273 billion."

The U.S. Senate's version of the tax reform bill does retain the credit, but slightly diminishes its value and spreads the credit out over five years.

That is an amendment to the Senate's original plan of reducing the credit even further.

It's an amendment that Ohio's US Senator Rob Portman supported. Portman also strongly supports the tax reform bill overall, telling Cleveland 19 on Saturday, "I'm excited about it because I know it's going to provide middle class tax relief, but I know it's going to provide a better economy."

Ohio's other US senator, democrat Sherrod Brown, sat down with Cleveland 19 Monday and criticized the tax bill overall, and the reduction of the federal credit.

"That's just bad policy, just like this bill takes away the deduction for people who have high healthcare costs, one of these bills takes away the deduction of interest for student loans, why would we do that? Why would we take money these are middle class families that use those two deductions? Why would we take that money away from them and give it and pay for tax cuts that overwhelmingly go to the wealthiest citizens?" said Brown.

Stephanie K. Meeks, the president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, issued this statement to Cleveland 19 about the historic tax credit.

More than 30 years ago, former President Ronald Reagan spoke eloquently about the historic tax credit program he signed into law to preserve America's historic buildings, calling it "economic good sense."

Today, led by Reagan's own party, Congress introduced a tax reform bill that would halt this proven program despite its remarkable track record of success.

By spurring public-private investment in the reuse of old and historic buildings, the federal Historic Tax Credit fuels the economic engine that is currently revitalizing downtowns, neighborhoods, and Main Streets across America. Getting rid of it now threatens the economic revival that is evident in America's cities and towns. Any plan to revise the tax code should enhance, not abolish, a pro-growth investment like HTC.

The Senate's tax reform bill is expected to go up for a vote after the Thanksgiving holiday. If the bill passes out of the Senate, both houses would have to reconcile their two bills, and since the House bill eliminates the tax credit, its future is not completely clear.

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