Tax Policy and Administration:

Historic Preservation Tax Incentives

GGD-86-112FS: Published: Aug 1, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on nationwide historic preservation activities, including its analyses of: (1) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) statistics of income data on qualified rehabilitation expenditures in 1982 and 1983; and (2) National Park Service (NPS) statistics on certified historic structure rehabilitations for fiscal years (FY) 1977 through 1985.

GAO found that, during tax years 1982 and 1983: (1) individual and corporate taxpayers reported about $6.1 billion in qualified rehabilitation expenditures; (2) 54 percent of the expenditures were for the rehabilitation of 40-year-old buildings and 36 percent for certified historic structures; and (3) a $655 million increase in expenditures for the rehabilitation of certified historic structures accounted for two-thirds of the total increase in expenditures. GAO estimated that individuals and corporations earned $1.3 billion in tax credits on the expenditures during the 2-year period. GAO noted that: (1) during FY 1982 through 1985, NPS received about four times the number of applications it received during FY 1977 through 1981; (2) the number of planned rehabilitations NPS approved since the Economic Recovery Tax Act more than tripled the number approved during earlier years; (3) after the act, NPS estimated that expenditures for approved projects were over five times the expenditures for approved projects before the act; and (4) since the act, NPS designated as certified rehabilitations more than three and one-half times the number it designated during the 5-year period prior to the act.

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