Because it produces private investment leading to economic development, jobs, taxes and community revitalization - here in Sioux City, across Iowa and across America - the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program should be protected by Congress.
Elimination of the program, administered by the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service in partnership with state historic preservation offices, is part of the proposed U.S. House tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House Ways and Means Committee advanced the legislation on Thursday. A Senate tax reform bill, introduced on Thursday, retains the program, but cuts the credit in half.
We urge our tri-state congressional delegation - Representatives Steve King, Rod Blum, David Young and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, Kristi Noem in South Dakota, and Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon in Nebraska, and Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst in Iowa, John Thune and Mike Rounds in South Dakota, and Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse in Nebraska - to advocate for the program as tax reform debate moves forward.
In particular, we urge King to champion federal historic tax credits because this community - the largest within King's district - is a model for the advantages they generate.
Through the program, a 20 percent income tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of buildings determined by the Interior Department, through the National Park Service, to be “certified historic structures.” If anything, this successful program - in addition to local and state economic benefits, these credits produce $1.20 to $1.25 in revenue to the U.S. Treasury Department for every dollar invested - should be expanded by increasing the credit to something more than 20 percent.
According to the Sioux City Economic Development Department, 257 Iowa projects reflecting more than $1 billion in total development costs received federal historic tax credits between 2002 and 2016. During that period of time, credits were used for $60 million in Sioux City redevelopment projects, including the Orpheum Theatre, the former Martin Hotel building, the former Central High School, Municipal Auditorium, the Williges building and several Historic Fourth Street structures.
This year, developers have announced plans to seek federal historic tax credits for additional high-profile projects, including renovation of the former Warrior Hotel building, the Davidson Building, the Commerce Building, a building most recently occupied by Hatch Furniture and the former Methodist Hospital building. Those planned projects represent more than $100 million in capital investment, according to the city's Economic Development Department.
Without federal historic tax credits, it's hard to imagine any of the completed or planned projects happen.
Protection of the federal historic tax credits program isn't only in the interests of Sioux City and Iowa, but in the interests of the country.
"It has leveraged over $84 billion in private investment to preserve 42,293 historic properties since 1976," according to the National Park Service.
By any measure, the program is a winner. Its proposed elimination makes absolutely no sense.
We call on Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska lawmakers to lead the charge for making that case and making sure these crucial credits remain in place and continue to provide local, state and national benefits.