Tax Credits for Historic Income-Producing Buildings | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Tax Credits for Historic Income-Producing Buildings

EnlargeExterior of commercial main street brick buildings.

Frank DeBoth Building, 1887

De Pere, Wisconsin. This building on Main Street is a part of the Main Avenue Historic District. It is an example of a historic income-producing building that qualifies for tax credits. View the property record: AHI 79530

Owners of historic income-producing properties in Wisconsin may be eligible for federal income tax credits that can help pay for their building's rehabilitation.

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program

This program returns 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating historic buildings to owners as a federal income tax credit.

The Wisconsin Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has placed a temporary moratorium on state tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic buildings, effective for new applications received after June 23, 2014.

How to Qualify for the Federal Historic Preservation Credit

This is a summary and is not intended to cover all program rules and guidelines. Additional information on the federal credit can be obtained through the National Park Service.

While the goal of the program is to preserve significant buildings, it is also an income tax program. Applicants must meet IRS requirements. Before you apply, we suggest you talk to your accountant to see if the program will work for you.

How to Qualify:

  1. Own a Historic Building

    A building is considered "historic" if it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or if the NPS determines that it contributes to the character of a National Register historic district. A building can also receive a preliminary determination of eligibility for the Register through the tax credit application process. In this case, the owner must formally list the property in the National Register prior to claiming any tax credits.

  2. Use the Building for Income-Producing Purposes

    Income-producing buildings are those used in a trade or business or for the production of rental income.

  3. Formally Apply to the Wisconsin Historical Society

    Prior to submitting application materials, we recommend you contact one of the preservation architects listed below. Depending on the complexity of your project, they may want to tour the building with you to determine if the proposed project meets the Standards. Application materials must be completed and mailed to the Society.

  4. Rehabilitate the Building Following Program Standards

    All work must comply with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

  5. Spend the Minimum Amount Required on Rehabilitation

    If an owner plans to spend at least an amount equal to the building's adjusted basis value or $5,000, whichever is greater, then the owner can apply for the 20 percent federal tax credit.

    The program allows this amount of money to be spent in either a two-year or five-year period.

  6. Claim the Credit for Eligible Expenses Only

    The cost of all work on the historic buildings, inside and out, is eligible for the credit with the exception of moveable equipment. The cost of site work, such as landscaping or paving, and the cost of new construction (such as new additions) are not eligible expenses.

  7. Maintain Ownership of the Building and the Building's Historic Character for Five Years

    If within five years of the building being placed into service, it is sold or altered in a way that diminishes its historic character, the tax credit must be repaid to the IRS. Repayment is prorated over the five-year period after the building is placed in service.

Application Forms and Instructions for Federal Tax Credits

We strongly recommend you read through the program requirements noted below.

Historic Preservation Certification Application (4 parts):

Learn More

Find more information about tax credits.

Have Questions?

For specific advice about the tax credit program or for advice on other technical historic architecture issues, please refer to the map and contact information below.

EnlargeCounty map of eastern and western Wisconsin tax credit regions. Contact Mark Buechel for eastern counties and Jen Davel for western counties.

Tax Credit Map


If you are in the Western District, contact Jen Davel by phone at 608-264-6490 or by email below:

If you are in the Eastern District, contact Mark Buechel by phone at 608-264-6491 or by email below:


Wisconsin History Tour.