Architects to Congress: ‘You're making a terrible mistake’

House and Senate gut historic building credits and penalize architecture firms.

December 04, 2017 |
Architects to Congress: ‘You're making a terrible mistake’

December 3, 2017 - The American Institute of Architects (AIA) will lobby aggressively in coming days against significant inequities in both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, just as the legislation heads into conference.

The House legislation abolishes the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), vital to the revitalization of America’s city centers and widely hailed as an economic engine since the Reagan Administration put them into place more than three decades ago. The Senate bill eliminates the current 10 percent credit for pre-1936 structures, and significantly dilutes the current 20 percent credit for certified historic structures by spreading it over a five-year period.

The Senate's tax reform bill allows small businesses that are organized as “pass through” companies (i.e. partnerships, sole proprietorships and S-Corporations) to reduce income through a 23 percent deduction. But, like the House-passed bill, the Senate bill totally excludes certain professional services companies - including all but the smallest architecture firms - from tax relief.

AIA 2017 President Thomas Vonier, FAIA, says:

"By weakening the Historic Tax Credits, Congress and the Administration will hurt historic rehabilitation projects all across the country - something to which architects have been committed for decades. Since 1976, the HTCs have generated some $132 billion in private investment, involving nearly 43,000 projects. The Historic Tax Credit is fundamental to maintaining America's architectural heritage.

"Unfortunately, both bills for some reason continue to exclude architects and other small business service professions by name from lower tax rates. There's no public policy reason to do this. Design and construction firms do much more than provide a service; they produce a major component of the nation's gross domestic product and are a major catalyst for job growth.

"Our members across the country are already mobilized to make sure their Congressional delegations know these views. In the coming days, we will spare no effort to make sure members of the House-Senate conference committee know the views of the AIA's more than 90,000 members on the inequities in both pieces of legislation

"We say this again: tax reforms must achieve three basic goals to ensure the vitality of small business and the health, safety and welfare of our communities:

·   Preserve tax policies that support and strengthen small businesses.

·   Support innovative, economically vibrant, sustainable and resilient buildings and communities.

·   Ensure fairness.

"So far, this legislation still falls well short of these goals. If passed, Congress would be making a terrible mistake."

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