Louisiana Congressional members successfully lead effort to preserve Federal Historic Tax Credit

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Provision championed by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy protects the historic tax credit program, which has supported dynamic economic development in communities across Louisiana and throughout the country

When federal tax reform legislation threatened to end or severely curtail the federal historic tax credit (HTC) program, Louisiana’s Congressional delegation led by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) stepped forward to save this powerful community redevelopment tool.

On Dec. 20, H.R. 1, major tax overhaul legislation, gained final approval by the U.S. Congress. This legislation, which makes significant changes to the federal tax code, contains language inserted by Sen. Cassidy that preserves the HTC.

Tax overhaul legislation as originally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would have eliminated the HTC. The initial version of tax reform legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate contained a 50 percent reduction to the HTC.

During the Senate’s consideration of the tax reform bill, Sen. Cassidy championed language that preserves the HTC at the current 20 percent level. To comply with congressional budget constraints, the amendment also spreads out the claiming of the HTC over five years. Currently, the HTC can be claimed in its entirety in one year.

The federal HTC provides a 20 percent tax credit for certain costs associated with the rehabilitation of qualified historic buildings. Restoration work must meet standards set by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the tax credit can only be realized after the work is complete and inspected.

As the tax reform bill moved into a conference committee, Sen. Cassidy and others worked tirelessly to ensure that the language preserving the HTC made it into the final version of the legislation. In particular, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) actively educated his Senate colleagues about the pro-growth HTC. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) put substantial effort into making sure the Cassidy HTC provision remained in the final tax reform bill. Additionally, U.S. Representatives Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Garrett Graves (R-LA), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Cedric Richmond (D-LA) worked hard to support the preservation of the HTC.

“If not for the work of Sens. Cassidy and Kennedy and many members of our U.S. House of Representatives delegation, downtown Shreveport would have lost projects already in the mix, significant investment opportunities in our city center and important historic structures that could never be replicated,” said Liz Swaine, Shreveport Downtown Development Authority executive director. “With the federal credit, our efforts to create jobs and opportunity through rehabilitating our historic downtown move forward.”

In the last 15 years, the federal HTC has directed more than $2.5 billion in private investment and created more than 38,000 jobs in Louisiana alone. Across the country, the federal HTC has encouraged more than $131 billion in private investment, resulted in the rehabilitation of more than 42,000 buildings, created more than 2.4 million jobs, and provided U.S. taxpayer’s with a net positive return on their investment (National Park Service sponsored study).