In a move expected to spur development in downtowns across the state, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Board of Directors gave final approval on January 30 to expand the state tax credit program for aging buildings.
The board approved a program that makes owners of historic and aging commercial buildings eligible for a 20 percent state income tax credit to help offset the costs of rehabilitating those structures.
The action comes after Governor Scott Walker signed a bill into law in December that increased the state’s existing Historic Preservation Tax Credit from 10 percent to 20 percent. That law also created a new Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit for owners of non-historic commercial buildings built before 1936.
The tax credit program, which is designed to encourage reinvestment in Wisconsin’s aging communities, was approved unanimously by the WEDC Board at its quarterly meeting in Fitchburg. With that vote, property owners can begin applying for the credits as of Friday, January 31.
“There is little doubt these tax credits will help revitalize downtowns and main streets throughout Wisconsin,” said Governor Walker, chairman of the WEDC Board. “That will result in a boost for the local and state economies.”
“WEDC has received calls from developers all over the state who are anxious to take advantage of the increased Historic Preservation Tax Credit,” added Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, Wisconsin’s lead economic development agency. “This program will make it more affordable for owners of historic buildings to undergo renovation projects, which will lead to a significant amount of development throughout the state.”
For a property owner to claim the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, the building must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places. Historic rehabilitations also must be recommended by the State Historic Preservation Officer.
For the new Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit, a building must have been placed in service before 1936 and must not have been relocated. The building also cannot be a certified historic building.
In both scenarios, the program provides transferrable tax credits of 20 percent of the cost of eligible rehabilitation work totaling $50,000 or more.