Owners of historic buildings in Florida considering rehabilitating their property have a variety of programs to choose from. In 1992, the Florida state constitution was amended to allow local governments the option of offering ad valorem tax exemptions on improvements to historic properties. The purpose of providing this exemption was to stimulate revitalization of historic properties and to ease the burden of maintaining these properties. This tax exemption program is available throughout Hillsborough County. Rehabilitation projects in the City of Tampa and the City of Plant City may also qualify for additional exemptions from city taxes.
Properties that qualify for the exemption from the county-wide tax are those designated as local landmarks, those listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or as contributing properties in a local or National Register historic district. In the City of Tampa and the City of Plant City, only locally designated landmarks and contributing structures within locally designated historic districts are considered eligible properties for exemption from city ad valorem taxes.
All applications for this tax exemption are reviewed by the appropriate local reviewing entity. These are the Barrio Latino Commission (BLC) for properties located within the Ybor City Historic District, the Tampa Architectural Review Commission (ARC) for all other qualifying historic properties located within the City of Tampa, the Plant City Historic Review Board (HRB) for historic properties located in the City of Plant City, and the Hillsborough County Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) for historic properties located in unincorporated Hillsborough County.
Residential and non-residential properties may apply for this program. Improvements must be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and meet criteria set by the Department of State (Chapter 1A- 38, Florida Administrative Code). A determination that the project is in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation must be made by the local reviewing entity. It is recommended (and required for properties in the City of Plant City) that Parts I (Evaluation of Property Eligibility) and II (Description of Improvements) of the application, with required documentation, be completed and submitted for review before the project is begun. Failure to obtain project approval prior to the initiation of construction leaves the owner at risk of failing to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.
Part III (Request for Review of Completed Work) is to be submitted upon completion of the improvements. Prior to the review process, the property owner must complete a protective covenant stating that the character of the property and the qualifying improvements to the property will be maintained during the exemption period.
The local reviewing entity then makes its recommendation to the appropriate local governing body(ies), which may approve the exemption by ordinance. The local governing bodies are the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, the Tampa City Council, and the City Commission of the City of Plant City.
The exemption is for 100% of the increase in the assessed value of the improvements to the historic structure that results from rehabilitation. The exemption takes effect on January 1 of the year following the substantial completion of the improvements and is applicable for a 10-year period. It applies only to improvements to real property. When the property is sold, the exemption passes to the new owner.