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Historic Tax Credit Program Expanded Due to Change in Census Tract Eligibility

Assemblyman Sean Ryan has announced an agreement between the NY Department of Taxation and Finance and the State Historic Preservation Office that will enable more areas in Buffalo to utilize the state historic tax credit program. In order for properties listed on the National Register or part of a National Register historic district to utilize the 20% historic tax credit program, the property must be located in a qualified census tract, i.e. where the median income of the residents is at or below the median income level for NY state.

The agreement centers around applying a margin of error to income estimates since many of these estimates rely on a small sample size, the actual eligibility of many tracts are disqualified because income seems to high. Across the state, over six hundred new census tracts will become eligible for the state historic tax credit.

Many times there is a single census tract that has been deemed ineligible, but is surrounded on all sides by eligible census tracts like in the Linwood Historic District or the Elmwood Village area. Now, most areas will be eligible for the state historic tax credit in addition to the federal credit for a total 40% historic tax credit on qualified rehab work.

The majority of historic rehabilitations use these tax credits to fill the gap in the budget and without it, would likely not move forward. The program is used for big projects like the Hotel Lafayette, 500 Seneca, or the Tishman building, but it is also utilized by homeowners and for smaller commercial buildings in historic districts. The 2013-2014 NY State budget has extended the program until 2019 and included a non-taxable refundable credit for projects placed in service in 2015. As a result, expect to see some serious rehabilitation projects begin to take shape through this year and 2014 in addition to the many already underway.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said: “Extending the availability of this tax credit to more census tracts will allow work to be done on more projects throughout the City of Buffalo. Buffalo is home to many historic structures that can be transformed, renovated and brought back to life. Earlier this year, we passed a state budget that took action to extend this tax credit until 2019. That action, combined with today’s actions from the state will help to preserve our historic structures, turn those structures into new usable and functioning buildings, reduce blight and get more Buffalo residents working.”

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Written by Mike Puma

Mike Puma

Writing for Buffalo Rising since 2009 covering development news, historic preservation, and Buffalo history. Works professionally in historic preservation.

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