Lawmakers should extend historic buildings renovation tax break

Posted 4/28/16

A state tax break that has significantly affected the renovations of several historic buildings in the Birmingham area will be eliminated if lawmakers in the Senate cannot agree to extend the program.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Lawmakers should extend historic buildings renovation tax break

Posted

A state tax break that has significantly affected the renovations of several historic buildings in the Birmingham area will be eliminated if lawmakers in the Senate cannot agree to extend the program.

The three-year program, approved in 2013, gave up to $20 million in tax credits each year for the renovation and revitalization of historic buildings. It will expire in May.

Alison Howell, vice president of public policy for the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the tax credits were instrumental in many heralded projects in downtown Birmingham, including the Lyric Theatre, the Redmont Hotel and The Florentine, a 1926-era building.

"The tax credits thus far have produced pretty incredible results, particularly in the Birmingham area," Howell told the Associated Press. "We've seen a complete renaissance in downtown."

The organization said extending the tax credits was their top priority for the session.

Extending the tax credits should be a top priority for lawmakers as well, but the proposed seven-year extension is seeing opposition from some top legislators. The bill passed the House, but Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh has not assigned it to a committee. Marsh cited the cost of the program as his main concern. While the state does have budget troubles, these incentives are not costing the state a ton of revenue, because they are projects that would have never been completed had it not been for the tax breaks. The forward-thinking officials who approved the bill in 2013 used the idea to move forward projects that were stagnant. Marsh’s issues with the idea seem to be more political posturing than concrete concerns.

Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) has been a strong advocate of the legislation since day one.

“I think it has been a positive thing in different areas around the state,” Reed said.

Some lawmakers have voiced concerns that the credits have gone to only a few companies or individuals who are looking to develop those older properties. Even if that is the case, the tax breaks have benefited the entire state by generating new revenue and upgrading older properties. With minimal cost to the state, that success should be enough to push the Senate to approve the extension.

Some lawmakers have suggested the bill could be dead for this session with only a few more legislative days left for it to be taken up. If the extension does die, that is a mistake that will cost the state added revenue over the next seven years. If the budget is actually a concern, this is one item that needs to move forward.

— Daily Mountain Eagle