Rehab Tax Credits
Tax credits are important tools that encourage and facilitate the rehabilitation of historic properties.
Federal There is a 20% federal tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of commercial (income-producing) properties) of historic properties on the National Register of Historic Places. These properties may be individually listed or may be in National Register historic districts. Buffalo also has some certified local districts that qualify.
New York State Tax Credits There is a 20% state credit that can be used in conjunction with the Federal credit for commercial properties. In addition, there also is a new 20% credit for a wide variety of rehabilitation efforts undertaken by homeowners on their historic properties. For either state credit, a property must be on the National Register and in an eligible census tract. Listed below are Buffalo and Niagara Falls historic districts that are in eligible census tracts. As available, historic districts in other western New York counties will be added to this list.
Since 1996, New York State has also had a tax credit for historic barns, defined as barns placed in agricultural services before 1936; these barns do not need to be on the National Register or in an historic district.
Special Note: A tax payer with combined New York State tax credits in excess of $2,000,000 is subject to rules deferring a portion of these credits to future years.
The Homeowners Tax Credits Flyer for WNY
A 20% Credit – What Work Qualifies?
This state credit is available for work costing over $5,000, at least 5% of which must be on the exterior. (Note -- there is no federal tax credits for homeowners of historic properties.) Typical work that qualifies includes:
Air Conditioning Systems
Stairs (interior and exterior)
Painting (interior and exterior)
This credit is for enhancing historic buildings. Changes like vinyl siding or vinyl cladwindows will not qualify. Proposed window replacements will be closely scrutinized to insure that replacement is necessary and that the replacement windows are appropriate to the historic structure. Work outside the owner-occupied structure generally does not qualify (i.e. landscaping, fencing, decks, outbuildings).
How to Proceed
Homeowners themselves should be able to complete the required application and certification process, which comes in three parts. State Tax Credit Forms Check to see if your property is in an eligible census track; Buffalo, Niagara Falls and some other historic districts are identified in this unofficial listing:
Warning – do not start work before your project is approved.
Part I. A one-page form for the homeowner’s address, estimated project costs and some
additional information. Must be accompanied by a map pinpointing the property (a Google map will suffice). Part I may be submitted with Part II.
Part II. Requires a building description, construction date, and a list of previous alterations (if significant), a description of the proposed work, and estimated costs. Photos are also required of the exterior and all areas of work, with a sketch of the floor plan (not an architectural drawing) showing the location and camera angle of the photos.
Part III. The owner’s signature that the work is complete, with ‘after’ photos matching the photo angles shown in the Part II.
OPRHP then certifies that the project is complete, which enables the homeowner to claim the credit on Form IT-237. Homeowners are able to take the credit for the tax year when all the work of the project is complete. Homeowners with combined income of less that $60,000 may receive a tax refund.
Where significant work is needed, projects can be phased, as long as each phase meets the $5,000 minimum and includes at least 5% exterior work for each phase. Program staff can explain how to take the credit for houses with rental units and for coop buildings.
Residential Tax Credit Program
Division for Historic Preservation
Peebles Island Resource Center
PO Box 189Waterford, NY 12188-0189
Call Sloane Bullough (518) 237-8643 ext. 3252
Property owners, municipalities or civic organizations interested in perhaps nominating properties or districts to the National Registers should contact the state’s National Register Unit at (518) 237-8643 .
Owners of income producing properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20% federal income tax credit for substantial rehabilitation projects. The work performed (both interior and exterior) must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation There is also a 10% federal rehabilitation tax credit for non-historic older buildings placed in service before 1936. The National Parks Service has a brochure on these federal historic preservation tax credits.
Owners of income producing properties that have been approved to receive this federal credit automatically qualify for the additional state tax credit if the property is located in an eligible census tract. Rehabilitation expenditures up to $5,000,000 can qualify for the state credit. Special Note: A tax payer with combined New York State tax credits in excess of $2,000,000 is subject to rules defering a portion of these credits to future years.
New York State has this web page that discusses both the federal and state credit.
This list assembled by PBN is unofficial and incomplete and pertains only to the state's credits. The eligibility of districts listed below must be confirmed by the state's Division of Historic Preservation (518 237-8643). If you are interested in adding other historic districts to this list, please send the district’s name and the county where it is located to info@P-B-N.org
Buffalo –with links to maps
Linwood Certified Local Preservation District note: area north of Utica not eligible for state tax credits
The Parkside (East and West) National Register Historic Districts are not in eligible census tracts.
The Park Place National Register Historic District
The Orchard Parkway/Chilton Ave. Historic District
Elsewhere in Western New York
Most National Register properties in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus,Wyoming and Orleans Counties, with a few exceptions, are in eligible census tracts. However, affluent suburban areas outside of Buffalo (i.e. Orchard Park) and Niagara Falls, and portions of Genesee County nearer Rochester, do not qualify.
Some of Western New York’s historic districts in qualified census tracts
Oak Hill Park Historic District in Olean
East Main Street Historic District in Westfield
French Portage Road Historic District in Westfield
Lowertown Historic District in Lockport
Wyoming Village Historic District
Silver Lake Institute Historic District in Wyoming County
Monument Circle Historic District in Warsaw
Ellicottville Historic District
Chautauqua Institution Historic District
Point Chautauqua Historic District
If you are interested in adding other historic districts to this list, please send the district’s name and the county where it is located to firstname.lastname@example.org