Many of the commercial buildings along Westminster Street in Providence are listed on the National Register and are eligible for the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
(2/28/20 update) The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s Rebuild RI Tax Credit Program can provide financial assistance for the rehabilitation of historic buildings, making the preservation and adaptive reuse projects more affordable. Visit the Rebuild RI webpage for detailed information on how to apply for state tax credits for historic rehabilitation projects.
The Rhode Island Historic Preservation Tax Credit helps you restore your historic income-producing building by making preservation work more affordable. If your preservation project is approved, you will receive a credit on your state income tax return.
(10/16/19 update) The Rhode Island Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2020--possibly to be extended. The RI Division of Taxation is still accepting applications for being assigned a place in the queue for tax credit allocations. However, tax credit funds are limited at this time.
Download materials, and read the Q & A section to learn more about the RI Historic Preservation Tax Credit below:
DOWNLOADS and LINKS (.pdf unless otherwise noted)
What is the fee for tax credit certification?
The fee is 3% of Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures. Payment is made to the R.I. Division of Taxation at the time the Tax Credit Contract is signed after RIHPHC has approved the proposed rehabilitation project.
What are the results of recent analyses of the tax credit?
Preservation: An Overlooked Economic Driver, A Study of the Impacts of Historic Preservation in Rhode Island (2018) analyzes historic preservation in Rhode Island in four areas: heritage tourism, the impact of the historic tax credit, life and culture, and sustainability. Visit Preserve Rhode Island's website to download a copy.
How big is the credit?
The credit equals 25% of the cost of approved rehabilitation work for projects that rehabilitate space for a trade or business, and the credit equals 20% of the cost of approved rehabilitation work for residential apartments and condominiums.
Can I get it all at once?
The entire credit may be claimed when the project is completed. Unused portions of the credit may be taken over a 10-year period. Also, the owner does not have to use the credit him/herself, but instead can sell the credit to another individual or to a corporation. Non-profit owners can qualify for the credit and assign or sell it to a tax-paying partner or investor.
Is my building historic?
Yes--if it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or is located within a National Register Historic District and contributes to the district's significance, or if it is part of a local historic district. To confirm if your property is eligible, first try the Historic Property Search database; for assistance, email Jeffrey Emidy or call him at (401)222-4134.
What if my building seems historic but isn't listed on the National Register or State Register?
To qualify for the State Historic Preservation Tax Credit, the property must be listed before the rehabilitation project is completed and the building is placed in service. Owners of properties that the Commission considers to be eligible for listing may apply for preliminary certification of their properties. Preliminary certifications will become final when the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Issuance of preliminary certification does not obligate the Commission to nominate the property. Applicants proceed with rehabilitation projects at their own risk; if the historic property is not listed prior to completion of the project, the preliminary certification will not become final. To get your property listed on the National Register, email Jeffrey Emidy or call him at (401)222-4134.
What kind of building qualifies?
Most historic buildings that are used to produce income will qualify, such as offices, stores, rental apartments, and factories; development of condominiums may qualify also. Private one- and two- family residences, social clubs, and tax-exempt properties like schools, hospitals, and churches do not qualify.
What size project qualifies?
Owners must "substantially" rehabilitate their historic building. For the State Historic Preservation Tax Credit, this means the cost of the project must be greater than the value of the building (not including the value of the land the building occupies). See the definition of "Substantial Rehabilitation" in the State Regulations. For federal tax credits, the same requirement applies.
What work qualifies?
Exterior and interior rehab qualify for the tax credit as long as the work meets the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitating Historic Properties. Eligible projects include work on the roof, exterior walls, windows, foundations, structure, heating, plumbing, electrical system, and interior improvements that are capitalized to the building.
What work doesn't qualify?
New additions to the building, site work, landscaping, and costs of fixtures and furnishings are not eligible. For more information, see Causes for denial.
How do I apply?
The process for applying for the R.I. Historic Preservation Tax Credits begins with an application to the R.I. Division of Taxation. See the advisory and application. The R.I. Division of Taxation will notify applicants in writing when an allocation of tax credits has been reserved for their project. Within ninety (90) days, applicants must file the following with RIHPHC: Part 1/Certification of Historical Significance and Part 2/Certification of Proposed Rehabilitation. Applications must be filed before the project is completed. See RIHPHC Application instructions for more detail.
When the project is completed, applicants must file Part 3/Certification of Completed Rehabilitation with the RIHPHC. Applicants also must file information with the R.I. Division of Taxation, including a cost certification for the completed project.
How long does it take?
Submit a completed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 application to RIHPHC at any time. Reviews take approximately four to eight weeks.
Can I get restoration advice?
We encourage applicants to discuss their project with one of our staff architects before beginning work. This consultation will make sure that the project will qualify and ensure that good historic preservation practices are followed. Please email Roberta Randall or call her at (401) 222-4333, or email Virginia Hesse or call her at (401)222-4135.
What's the fine print?
The new historic tax credit legislation was enacted in 2013 (RI General Law 44-33.6) and new regulations were drafted. Click the following links for the 2013 Legislation and the 2013 Regulation.