WIN: New Illinois State Historic Tax Credit Becomes Law!

On July 16, 2018, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed SB 3527, a bipartisan bill improving and expanding the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Historic Tax Credit.

This legislation opens up millions of dollars in economic incentives in the form of tax credits for historic preservation projects throughout Illinois,” Rauner said after signing the bill. “It is imperative that we add jobs and fuel economic development. This bill will help Illinois achieve those goals while also preserving our past and making our state even more beautiful to visit.” (Quad-City Times, 7/26/18)

A statewide historic tax credit program incentivizes developers to choose Illinois and will breathe new life into older properties,” State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island said. “This new tax credit is based off an existing program in Illinois that saw tremendous success creating jobs and new economic activity by reviving structures in older downtown areas.” (Quad-City Times, 7/26/18)

After nearly a decade of advocacy, Landmarks Illinois and the American Institute of Architects-Illinois celebrated the passing of this important tool for historic preservation. This important tool is even more important since the new recently passed federal tax code weakened the federal historic preservation tax credit.

SB3527 establishes a new statewide Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Historic preservation projects statewide that meet one of five targeted criteria and a project readiness test can apply for a 25 percent state income tax credit for qualified expenditures, up to $3 million in state credits per project. The Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will administer two application rounds annually to allocate the $15 million available per year. Credits will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and applicants must reapply if not accepted. The program will be in effect from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2023.

Rep. Steven Andersson (R-Geneva): “Historic Tax Credit projects are that rare win-win-win we look for. The design, construction and development team wins from the jobs created, the community wins by restoring a great local asset and the taxpayers win with a tremendous return on investment.”

Historic tax credits work and are an important financing tool to allow historic projects to be economically feasible. “A behind-the-scenes scramble by Murphy and Cook County officials late last year illustrates the make-or-break importance of the old federal tax credit, which provided a 20 percent income tax benefit to developers of certified rehabs of historic income-producing properties. “If there’s ever a textbook case of a building that never would have survived without it, it’s the old Cook County Hospital building,” Murphy said.” (Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 6/1/18)

“For nine years, our coalition of architects and advocates championed the effectiveness of historic tax credits as a proven economic and community development incentive,” said Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA, Executive Vice President of AIA Illinois. “It is so gratifying to see those efforts finally succeed, and we look forward to the transformative projects to come.”

“By an overwhelming majority, the Assembly has sent a bill to Governor Rauner that would open up communities statewide to additional private investment through a proven economic development and job-creation tool,” said Bonnie McDonald, President of Landmarks Illinois.

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