TAX INCENTIVES FOR HISTORIC STRUCTURES
I. AUSTIN’S PROGRAM
Designated historic landmarks in Austin are eligible for an exemption from City advalorem taxes. The exemption for an owner-occupied residence is 100% of the value of the structure and 50% of the value of the land with a cap of the greater of $2,000 or 50%of the city taxes for structures designated after 2005. Commercial or rental properties areeligible for an exemption of 50% of the value of the structure and 25% of the value of theland. The Travis Central Appraisal District separates rental units on the same parcel asan owner-occupied residence for a separate tax calculation.The owner of a historically-zoned property must apply for the exemption every year. TheCity Historic Preservation Office inspects each property to ensure that it is being properlymaintained. The Historic Landmark Commission rules on each application, denying anyapplication for a property which is not being maintained to ensure its preservation. TheHistoric Landmark Commission denies an average of 9 of the over 300 applications fortax exemption reviewed annually. Although properties in states of disrepair generally donot apply for the exemption, clearly, the vast majority of historic landmarks in Austin arewell-maintained.
BENEFITS OF AUSTIN’S TAX EXEMPTION PROVISION FORHISTORIC STRUCTURES
The property tax exemption provides a very effective incentive to promote and ensurepreservation of historically-significant buildings in Austin. Owners of historic landmarksmust receive approval from the City Historic Landmark Commission to make anychanges to the exterior of the buildings or the site. The Historic Landmark Commissionhas adopted the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation to evaluate aproperty owner’s application for a Certificate of Appropriateness for any exteriorchanges. Historic preservation principles call for the repair of deteriorated features overtheir replacement, which results in higher maintenance costs in many cases for owners of historic properties.The tax exemption for historic landmarks also provides the means to enforce preservationof the city’s landmarks and to strongly discourage un-approved changes or illegalsignage. Every landmark owner filing an application for a historic property taxexemption consents to an inspection of the exterior of their property. The City HistoricPreservation Officer’s inspection consists of an assessment of any maintenance needs,such as masonry re-pointing, roof or gutter repairs, replacement of broken glass, rottedwood, or deteriorated architectural features, and routine painting and waterproofing toprevent deterioration of historic fabric. The inspection ensures that the only landmarksrecommended for approval of the property tax exemption exhibit a high degree of careand maintenance.