Many homeowners in historic districts pay the full cost of upgrading building systems when they don’t need to. By ‘systems’ we mean the guts of a house that keep it functioning and comfortable – electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.
Contributing buildings in National Register historic districts are eligible for a Wisconsin Historic Tax Credit program that returns 25% of eligible expenditures to the owner in the form of a direct credit to their state income tax obligation. Eligible expenditures include not only repairs and maintenance to exterior features like windows and roofing, but also the systems that keep historic buildings functioning and in good condition.
The program specifies that work on the hardware of these systems is eligible for the credit: wiring, copper pipes, air handling equipment etc., but not the decorative fixtures that deliver electricity, water, and air – parts like light fixtures, faucets, and shower heads.
Wisconsin’s program requires that property owners spend at least $10,000 on a project in order tog get the credit, and the maximum expenditure is $40,000. Th program allows property owners to combine projects to get to the minimum, and break apart large projects to get under the maximum. And there is no limit to the number of tax credit applications an owner can submit.
Wisconsin’s historic tax credit program is a valuable tool for financing repair and maintenance projects, and a great incentive for owners of homes in historic districts to maintain the character of historic buildings. It’s an admirable investment in the states many historic districts that has a stabilizing affect on property values, adds vitality to commercial districts, and contributes to the state tourism economy.