A bipartisan group of Virginia politicians is calling for changes to tax policy to help private investors renovate old school buildings for use as modern schools.
In an op-ed in Politico, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), Sen. Jim Webb (D), Sen. Mark Warner (D), Rep. Eric Cantor (R), former governor George Allen (R) and former governor Tim Kaine (D) outlined their support for The Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act of 2011.
The bill, introduced by Webb and Warner, calls for expanding a federal tax credit that has worked well for rehabbing historic buildings. Currently, it cannot be applied to structures that would be used as schools.
“Because of a limitation on using the tax credits for tax-exempt property, public schools cannot generally benefit from this,” the op-ed says. “In addition, an Internal Revenue Service rule, known as ‘prior use,’ generally prohibits private investors from earning this credit if they renovate an older school into a more modern public educational facility.
“This means that if a local school building is turned into a luxury condo, developers are eligible for federal tax credits. But if private interests invest to modernize an old school, the IRS says these tax credits are not available.”