Federal 20% Rehabilitation Tax Credit for Certified Historic Buildings

The 20% Tax Credit is by far the most common program in which eligible property owners participate. Hundreds of applications leveraging billions of dollars of private investment are certified by the National Park Service each year, and have successfully encouraged development in commercial downtowns, rental housing areas, and agricultural facilities. Projects do require a significant level of advanced planning, as in most cases, project plans must be reviewed and approved by the National Park Service prior to beginning work in order to be eligible. Below are some brief guidelines to determine if this credit is an appropriate option for your project. Prospective applicants are strongly advised to consult their tax adviser or accountant before beginning the application process. Also, check out information from the National Park Service before you apply.

Before Applying 

  • Consult an accountant, tax attorney, other tax advisor, or the IRS to determine whether these incentives apply to your own tax and financial situation.
  • Make sure the project meets the "substantial rehabilitation" test and other IRS requirements.
  • Contact the Nevada SHPO to discuss the design and construction parameters of your project. 
  • Visit the National Park Service webpage for the program, which includes program regulations, frequently asked questions, Standards and Guidelines, technical guidance, and more. 

Who Can Apply?

  • Generally, the legal, fee-simple, owner of the property on which expenses will be claimed; or a long-term lessee of the property. Some exceptions apply, but consult the NPS guidance or the IRS for more information. 

To be eligible for this federal program, properties must be:

  • Listed in the National Register of Historic Places; or
  • A contributing resource in a National Historic District (or a state or local district certified by the National Park Service); or
  • Eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (for more information on this option, please contact the Nevada SHPO’s program coordinator well before beginning a project).

To be eligible for this federal program, projects must:

  • Be a “substantial rehabilitation” as defined by the federal Internal Revenue Service.
  • Be certified by the National Park Service as having met the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Review of projects for compliance will occur before a project begins.

When to Apply

  • Apply at any time during the year
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications and receive approval from the NPS prior to the start of work. Owners who undertake rehabilitation projects without prior approval from the NPS do so at their own risk. Owners of buildings contributing to historic districts are barred from applying after-the-fact under federal law. 

Process and Review Times

Generally, reviews of complete applications will be conducted within approximately 60 calendar days from receipt of a request (30 days at the SHPO, and 30 days with the NPS). Be aware that staff shortages at both agencies may require an extension of this 60-day period, but applicants will be made aware of this eventuality in these rare events. 

Questions? 

For questions about a building's historic status, design aspects of a project, or the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, contact the program coordinator at the Nevada SHPO, Kristen Brown, at (775) 684-3439 or knbrown [at] shpo.nv.gov

For questions about tax code, please consult your tax advisor first. If questions remain regarding tax code, tax liability, or eligibility for the credit based on your individual tax situation, please contact the IRS coordinator for the program, Colleen Gallagher, at (763) 347-7361 or colleen.k.gallagher [at] irs.gov.