The AIA is gearing up to fight the House’s and Senate’s tax plan, both of which eviscerate historic tax credits and disadvantage architecture firms, especially smaller ones.
In a statement released last night, the professional organization said it would lobby hard against provisions in both versions of the bill, which is officially known as Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House’s plan eliminates the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an incentive that’s key to revitalizing buildings along historic main streets and downtowns. The Senate’s rules, meanwhile, would spread out the current 20 percent credit for recognized historic structures over five years, and eliminate the ten percent credit for buildings erected before 1936.
The legislation goes into conference today.
The HTC is an important revitalization tool for municipalities across the country. A 2015 report by the National Park Service and Rutgers University showed the HTC preserved more than 42,000 buildings nationwide and generated $131 billion in private investment since they were introduced in 1981. By offsetting the design and construction services needed to rehab older, often blighted buildings, the credits have created 2.4 million jobs in construction and administration.
“By weakening the Historic Tax Credits, Congress and the Administration will hurt historic rehabilitation projects all across the country—something to which architects have been committed for decades,” said Thomas Vonier, the AIA’s 2017 president. “Since 1976, the HTCs have generated some $132 billion in private investment, involving nearly 43,000 projects. The Historic Tax Credit is fundamental to maintaining America’s architectural heritage.”
“Our members across the country are already mobilized to make sure their Congressional delegations know these views. In the coming days, we will spare no effort to make sure members of the House-Senate conference committee know the views of the AIA’s more than 90,000 members on the inequities in both pieces of legislation,” he said. “So far, this legislation still falls well short of these goals. If passed, Congress would be making a terrible mistake.”
On the operations side, for all small firms (regardless of industry), the Senate bill permits some (“pass through” businesses) to take a 23 percent tax deduction. Bills from both sides of Congress, however, exclude certain professional categories from these benefits; under the proposed rules, only the tiniest architecture firms would receive tax relief.