September 21, 2020
Negotiations on the COVID-19 relief bill continue to stall despite President Trump attempting to breathe new life into these discussions last week. HTC advocates believe that if the bill does materialize and is large enough to contain a robust tax title, there could be an opportunity to include HTC provisions.
Last Wednesday, President Trump called for a bill with “much higher numbers” than had previously been suggested by Senate Republicans who had socialized amounts ranging from $300 million to just over $1 trillion, compared to a House-passed $3 trillion bill. Democrats have rejected the Senate’s smaller, more focused approach.
Though Democratic leaders are “encouraged” by the President’s comments, it is unclear how much further beyond $1 trillion White House negotiators will be willing to go, as they will likely lose the votes of Senate Republicans as the total number increases. At the moment, there is little progress in crafting a compromise, and a sizeable COVID-19 relief bill appears to be unlikely. Congress is set to recess in early October and is not scheduled to reconvene until after the elections.
HTC Legislation Needed
HTC advocates have long sought enhancements to the HTC that would bring more value to HTC rehabilitations, make more projects eligible for the credit, and ensure that the credit is easy to use. These changes are needed more than ever. There are profound challenges in financial markets resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a lower risk tolerance of banking institutions, decreased access to debt and equity capital, increased on-site costs and requirements, various types of project and supply chain delays, and other unforeseen obstacles.
Through the hard work of HTC advocates, this July, the House passed an Infrastructure bill (HR -2) which included a temporary increase to the HTC from 20% to 30% and other provisions similar to the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (S. 2615/H.R. 2825). This is the first time a congressional chamber has passed these improvement provisions, many of which have been suggested for decades.
Though the process has been long and the timing remains uncertain, many in Washington (and across the nation) believe the HTC is in the best position that it has ever been, with recognized value and desire to improve the credit seen on both sides of the aisle. There will be more clarity after the elections and today’s advocacy efforts will pay dividends on behalf of historic preservation and the HTC industry. If not in a COVID-19 relief bill this year, it will propel these ideas forward in future bills in the next Congress.
Thank you for your efforts this summer, and please continue to stay in communication with decision-makers in your community.
Site Visits and Local Meetings
Most Members of Congress will be back home from early October through the November Elections. Your Senators and Representatives will be looking to connect with voters and fill their schedules with smaller events since large events are limited. While operating within local health guidelines, this provides an excellent opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and invite them to tour an active project, share challenges, and discuss how improvements to the HTC would make a difference. It also provides an opportunity to assemble your “Dream Team” of advocates to organize meetings locally with legislators and their staff. Now is the ideal time to send requests to get on your legislators’ recess schedules! We encourage you to coordinate these events with state or local preservation and main street organizations and members of the historic rehab industry (developers, tenants, architects, consultants, accountants, and attorneys).
To arrange a site visit or in-district meeting with a member of Congress:
- Gather the necessary stakeholders to execute the site-visit or meeting. Projects discussed or toured should be examples of challenges faced with HTC projects (or future projects) and how improvements to the HTC or COVID-19 relief provisions in HR 2 would benefit these local projects. Get creative, during this time of social distancing and abiding by local health guidelines. Request a walking tour of your main street, a social distancing tour of an active project, or meet outside at a local park or a coffee shop with outdoor seating.
- Locate the name, contact information number of your House Representative and/or Senators
- Ask for the contact information for schedulers in the offices of your representative.
- Once connected:
- Make a request to accompany the Member on an HTC project tour (or a meeting) during the upcoming recesses, or
- Request a meeting with advocates in the local office.
- Make your request clear that you are flexible to work within social distancing requirements.
- Contact Mike Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in making your request.
Novogradac and Company HTC Advocacy Workshop
The Novogradac HTC Conference (9/24-9/25) will be hosting a pre-conference HTC Advocacy Workshop on September 23rd from 3 pm – 5 pm (EDT). Learn from Merrill Hoopengardner (NTCIC President and Chair of the HTCC), Patrick Robertson (Confluence Government Relations) and Peter Lawrence (Director of Public Policy, Novogradac & Co.) to sharpen your skills in advocating for the HTC. Hear best practices, learn what to avoid, get a toolkit and practice making a pitch. The cost of the workshop is $129 (workshop only) and $278 to attend both the workshop(s) and the virtual conference on the 24th and 25th. To register and for more details click here.