Sunsetting tax credit could be extended through housing bill

Massachusetts State House_652115

BOSTON (SHNS) – The state’s community investment tax credit helped generate $11 million in donations in 2016, and with a year-end deadline approaching, backers expect a similar total for 2017.

Massachusetts taxpayers can claim a 50 percent refundable credit on this year’s state taxes if they donate at least $1,000 by Dec. 31 to certain community development corporations, nonprofits aimed at improving urban, rural and suburban communities.

“What’s happened, over the last four years that the program’s been in effect, since the Legislature passed it, is that hundreds and thousands of families and businesses have gotten involved in working with local community residents to provide affordable housing and economic opportunity to people,” said Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

The credit raised $11 million from 1,883 donations last year, according to the association, up from the $4.7 million collected during the first year of the tax break in 2014 from 1,013 donations.

Kriesberg said the money can support various initiatives, including affordable housing, small business development and workforce training.

“There’s a wealth of innovative programs, like in Franklin County they’re using it to support local farmers, get their products to market,” he said. “In Quaboag Valley, the CDC has used it to form a partnership with Holyoke Community College to bring community college courses to the Quaboag Valley region. We’re seeing in Boston several CDCs that partnered with Boston Medical Center recently to use the funds to support affordable housing that will support the health of local residents, because if you don’t have stable housing, your health problems are worsened.”

Created as part of a 2012 economic development law, the community investment tax credit is scheduled to sunset after 2019. Pending legislation would extend it another another six years while also gradually raising the annual cap on total authorized credits from $6 million to $12 million.

The extension of the credit through 2025 is tucked into a $1.7 billion housing bond bill that’s now before the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

Kriesberg said he hopes the bill will make it to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk “early in 2018.”

“We are hoping that we get this done in 2018 so that the program can continue uninterrupted and we don’t create uncertainty,” Kriesberg said. “CDCs are working with donors, those are often long-term relationship, people making multi-year pledges and so forth.”

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