Heritage Trust protects Historic Tax Credit

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The Mississippi Heritage Trust is leading a grassroots advocacy effort to protect a federal historic tax credit program in anticipation of tax reform under President Donald Trump’s new administration.

The nonprofit organization last week announced that all six members of Mississippi’s Congressional delegation have expressed their support for the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act.

Preserving and improving the national policy via the tax credit act, which was referred to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means this month, is a priority for the Mississippi group and other nonprofits around the nation.

The Federal Historic Tax Credit encourages private investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings by allowing owners to receive 20% of their qualified rehabilitation expenses as credit against their personal income tax obligation.  When combined with the state historic tax credit (25%), the two often motivate developers to choose to save historic places where new construction (without the credits) is often cheaper.

Mississippi’s historic tax credit program was renewed in July. The state-run program was suspended in 2015 after the original $60 million the Legislature allocated had been spent by the end of 2014, leaving several projects hoping to take advantage of the tax credits in limbo.

One of the better-known projects currently affected by the tax credit is the conversion of the former James O. Eastland Federal Building in downtown Jackson into a 50-unit residential complex called Capitol & West, said Mississippi Heritage Trust executive director Lolly Rash.

Other projects in the wings include the rehabilitation of 18 vacant storefronts in Water Valley, the Centennial Plaza project consisting of 10 buildings and 57 acres in Gulfport and a former Sears location in Greenville.