Council Approves Increasing Tax Credits for Historic Properties
The Montgomery County Council has approved Expedited Bill 14-13 that allows owners of properties designated as “historic” to take tax credits of up to 25 percent for qualified improvements that help preserve the historic nature of the property.
The bill was approved by an 8-0-1 vote on July 16. Council President Nancy Navarro, Vice President Craig Rice and Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal voted to approve the measure. Councilmember Hans Riemer abstained, stating that he lived in a historic home and wanted to recuse himself from the vote. Councilmember Rice was the lead sponsor of the bill. Council President Navarro and Councilmembers Berliner, Elrich, Ervin and Floreen were co-sponsors.
Maryland and Montgomery County have previously allowed tax credits of 10 percent for qualified improvements to historic homes. As of July 1, the state law changed and now allows a 25 percent tax credit. Passage of the bill keeps the County at highest possible tax credit allowed by law.
The Council designates specific properties or districts as historic by including them in the Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The designation provides public benefit by retaining the history of the property. However, the owner of a historic property has additional burdens compared to other property owners.
Once designated, the owners of historic property must seek a historic area work permit before making changes to the exterior of their property. The review is intended to ensure that the historic integrity of the site is maintained. The cost for improvements to historic properties is generally higher than it is for non-historic properties as the material and labor necessary to adhere to historic preservation standards make improvements more expensive. The tax credit will help offset this burden.
“Many people see the progress that is going on throughout much of Montgomery County, but we are also a County intent on preserving our past,” said Councilmember Rice. “You do not have to live in a historic house to appreciate what they do for a community—all you have to do is drive by one and say, ‘Wow!’ We must give the owners of these properties some incentive to continue to invest in them and keep them up for our future generations to also appreciate. This bill is one way we can encourage preservation of the great properties that were once so prevalent around our County, but are now so rare.”
At a June 25 public hearing on the bill, numerous individuals and groups expressed their support. There was no testimony against the bill. The City of Rockville and all major historic preservation groups in the county support approval of the increased tax credit.
The County’s Office of Management and Budget estimated that in Fiscal Year 2011, the 10 percent historic tax credit program “cost” the County $234,850 in revenue. Increasing the tax credit would cost an estimated $345,000 additional. In FY11, there were 141 applications for historic tax credits.