Historic Home Owners' Tax Credits
The Wisconsin Historical Society's Division of Historic Preservation administers a program of 25-percent state income tax credits for repair and rehabilitation of historic homes in Wisconsin.
To qualify, your personal residence must be one of the following:
And you must spend at least $10,000 on the following types of eligible work within a two-year period:
- Work on the exterior of your house, such as roof replacement and painting, but not including site work such as driveways and landscaping;
- Electrical wiring, not including electrical fixtures;
- Plumbing, not including plumbing fixtures;
- Mechanical systems, such as furnaces, air conditioning, and water heaters; and
- Structural work, such as jacking up floors.
If you cannot meet the $10,000 minimum investment requirement within the two-year period, when you apply, you may request a five-year expenditure period.
All applications must be reviewed by DHP staff prior to the start of any work to make sure that the homes are historic and that the proposed work will not have a harmful effect on the houses' materials and historic features. This review usually takes less than three weeks.
Other Rules and Guidelines
Because this is both a historic preservation program and a program of income tax credits, other rules and guidelines exist. Before you apply, we urge you to request and read through the application materials.
A description of the program, rehabilitation guidelines and applications are available here in Adobe PDF Reader format. You can also request paper copies of these documents by calling 608-264-6493.
Tax Credits vs. Deductions vs. Property Tax Relief
A tax credit differs from a deduction in the following way:
- When you figure your income taxes, a deduction reduces your income for purposes of determining how much you owe the government in taxes.
- A tax credit, on the other hand, is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what you actually owe in taxes. In this program, for example, if you were to spend $20,000 on eligible work, you would receive a $5,000 credit against what you owe in state income taxes. If you cannot use the full credit in a given year, you can carry the unused credit into the following years until you use it up.
- This program does not affect what you owe in property taxes.
State or National Register Listing
One way to find out whether your property is listed in the state or national register of historic places is to consult our Architecture and History Inventory database (AHI), which contains information about a great number of buildings in Wisconsin, both listed and unlisted. If your property is contained in the database, either individually or as a contributing element to a historic district, a "card," like the one below, will appear. From this, you can determine your property's historical status.
Click on image for a larger version.