Nothing nefarious, they’re called Historic Tax Credits

Today’s Rhino takes a stab at understanding Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits for income producing properties and how it relates to the long-awaited opening of Greensboro’s International Civil Rights Museum.  But, I suspect, the article had only enough information to make people suspicious of what had to occur to finish the project.

As the name implies, such credits are only available to qualified, historically significant, income producing properties against Federal taxes owed on income of the owner.  Since a non-profit, such as Sit In Movement, Inc. doesn’t pay income taxes, it had to sell the property to an entity that does to capture the credits.  In this case, that apparently occurred back in August when the building was sold to Museum Landlord, LLC.  Museum Landlord, LLC could then, and only then, make the tax credit funded capitol  investments in the property – within strict guidelines outlined by the Secretary of the Interior – and capture the tax credits for themselves.

Museum Landlord, LLC was then free to “syndicate” their tax credits, or sell them off to other tax paying entities  (individuals or companies) – at a discount, thereby marginally lowering the effective income tax rate for the purchasing entity.

The National Trust for Historic Places is the leading agent of this syndication as well as the syndication of New Market Tax Credits, which may have also been utilized for our Civil Rights Museum.  The money made from this  “syndication” is then invested into the historic property in the form of  preservation related improvements.  That is, in no small part, how the Museum’s board was able raise the balance of the $14M needed to finish the project.

Back during the “baseball wars” in 2003, proponents of War Memorial Stadium tried valiantly to explain that just such an arrangement could be utilized to raise the funds needed to renovate the place.  People just couldn’t grasp the concept nor get past the fact that the publicly owned stadium would have to be privately owned during the period when the tax credits were being captured (usually 7 years) and then, like the Museum will be, reverted back to the original owners.

That arrangement is still available for WMS… or any other designated historic property in Greensboro.  The work my company performs always qualifies for not only Federal, but also State Historic Tax Credits.  Around 1/2 of our business comes from tax credit qualified projects.

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2 Comments

  1. George Hartzman
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    looks like a good call dave, as long as the contract says what it should.

  2. Posted January 29, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that explanation, David.