A state tax credit developers use to help offset the cost of renovating historic buildings is set to expire in 2021, unless preservationists are successful in pushing a bill that would continue the incentive until at least 2026.
House Bill 83 is sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans, and would extend the 20% credit—which applies only to commercial buildings, not residential structures—for another five years. A companion bill in the Senate is backed by Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia.
That lawmakers from such politically and geographically diverse backgrounds would be pushing for the measure speaks to the recognition of how important it is, says Fairleigh Jackson, executive director of Preserve Louisiana, a statewide preservation group that is behind the bill.
“This is something that is good for the whole state,” Jackson says. “This has been an excellent program for the state of Louisiana and we’re glad lawmakers from rural and urban communities are supporting it.”
The 20% state credit is typically used in conjunction with a 20% federal credit. The credits can be applied against income or corporate franchise tax and are calculated based on expenditures made during the renovation of a historic structure.
In late 2017, preservationists nationwide, with help from members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation, prevented the Trump administration from doing away with the federal building tax credits. At the time, supporters of the program pointed out that historic building tax credits, whether state or federal, pay off in the long run because they return otherwise dilapidated buildings to commerce.
Still off the table for the time being is a historic residential tax credit. The state’s formerly had such an incentive but it expired in 2018. Preservationists are hoping to bring it up again in 2021, the next time the legislature meets in fiscal session, but changes have to be made to the program first, Jackson says.
“The residential credited needed to be revamped so it could be more efficient and effective,” she says. “Hopefully, we will have done that by 2021.”