It is common for owners of historic properties to have questions about what benefits they qualify for, what restrictions might apply to their properties, and how to best take care of their historic property. The following information is designed to provide quick answers to some of the most common questions.
WHERE ARE TUCSON'S HISTORIC DISTRICTS, AND HOW DO THEY BECOME DISTRICTS? (Download (74.5 KB) this information)
Tucson has almost 30 historic districts, designated at the National level by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). There are 3 additional NRHP Historic Districts currently pending (as of Dec. 2011). MAP (584 KB)
Districts are created based on the nomination forms, which document research done on each district's history and every property within its boundaries. Each nomination is reviewed by the State of Arizona's Historic Preservation Office and the state's Historic Sites Review Committee; upon approval, the nominations are submitted to the Keeper for final approval. Once approved by the Keeper, the districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
At least 51% of the properties within a district's boundaries must contribute to the historic district - meaning, the properties must somehow contribute to the history, architecture, and overall character of the historic district. Contributing properties are eligible for tax breaks (read more below). A NRHP Historic District may lose its designation if its number of contributing historic properties falls below 51%.
There are no regulations or restrictions that accompany NRHP Historic District designation. National Register of Historic Places designation is a special distinction, and it is different from locally-designated zones that have restrictions and regulations, such as Historic Preservation Zones or Neighborhood Preservation Zones. (More information is available through Planning and Development Services, cms3.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd.)
Regulations and restrictions will apply for properties within Tucson's local Historic Preservation Zones and Neighborhood Preservation Zones (read more below). MAP (721 KB)
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A HISTORIC PROPERTY?
The national criteria for historic designation, developed by the National Register of Historic Places, require that a cultural resource must: 1.) be at least 50 years old, 2.) possess historical significance, and 3.) retain sufficient integrity (i.e., have not been altered too greatly or irreversibly). Historic significance is defined at the local, State, and/or National levels.
If you own a property within a designated Historic District in Tucson, your property was most likely assessed for its historic status. Properties that are deemed "contributing" properties to the historic district are considered historic properties. They are also eligible for tax credits. Properties deemed "non-contributing" are not considered historic properties and are not eligible for tax credits.
An inventory list of contributing properties is developed for each NRHP Historic District nomination. You can look up properties by district at cms3.tucsonaz.gov/historicdistricts or view them using our dynamic online map at maps.tucsonaz.gov/hcd.
IS MY PROPERTY ELIGIBLE FOR HISTORIC PROPERTY TAX CREDITS? (Download (74.5 KB) this information)
“Contributing” properties in NRHP Historic Districts are eligible for tax incentives:
- Owner-occupied properties are eligible for State Historic Property Tax Reclassification, which can provide as much as 45% relief from annual property taxes. Participation in this tax incentive program is VOLUNTARY. Property owners must enroll with the Pima County Assessor’s Office by filling out the appropriate paperwork, complete will signatures of ALL property owners and photos. Enrollment lasts for 15 years.
- Caution: Alterations or additions to the exterior of your property that do not meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation could result in diminishing your property’s historic value, and result in losing your historic tax break. Read more at: http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards.htm or http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation/sustainability-guidelines.pdf
Before doing any exterior changes (such as putting up walls in your front yard, additions, roof, solar panels, cisterns, or windows), discuss them with the Preservation Incentives Program Coordinator at the State Historic Preservation Office: Eric Vondy, 602.542.6998.
- Income-producing properties (rentals, commercial buildings) are also eligible for tax incentives at the Federal and State levels. For information on the Federal program, call Robert Frankeberger at 602.542.6943. For information on the State program, call Eric Vondy at 602.542.6998.
- Read about all of these programs online at:
http://azstateparks.com/SHPO/tax.html or http://azstateparks.com/SHPO/propertytax.html
HOW DO I APPLY FOR RESIDENTIAL HISTORIC PROPERTY TAX CREDITS? (Download (64.5 KB) these instructions)
Owners of properties in Historic Districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and who are living in contributing properties to the historic districts, are eligible to enroll in the state's Historic Property Tax Reclassification Program, which will reduce their annual property tax between 40 and 45 percent.
Enrollment and continued participation in the program is voluntary, but it requires approval by the State Historic Preservation Office for any major change to the exterior of a historic house if it will be visible from the street or sidewalk in front, and new walls in front of the house cannot be higher than 4 feet. The first step to enroll in the historic property tax credit program is to fill out a form at the Pima County Assessor's Office.
The deadline for enrollment for the next tax year is always December 31. For the 2012 tax year, enrollments must be submitted by Dec. 31, 2011.
TO ENROLL, COMPLETE THE FORM BY DOING THE FOLLOWING:
1) Download an enrollment form at: www.azstateparks.com/SHPO/propertytax.html
2) Get your contributing property’s information referenced in your Historic District’s nomination form at: cms3.tucsonaz.gov/historicdistricts
3) Take 2 pictures of your house: one showing the front, and one showing both the front and a side. example (185 KB)
4) Have all property owners sign the completed form.
5) Turn in your completed enrollment form & photos by Dec. 31, 2011 to:
Becky Becerril, Pima County Assessor’s Office, 115 N. Church Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701
(For questions, call 520.740.8071.)