Defining Terms

The Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive (RSA 79-E) Program allows the City to provide a temporary period of limited tax relief for property owners who wish to undertake substantial rehabilitation of a qualifying structure which will provide at least one public benefit. Under the statute, use of the 79-E program is limited to designated or recognized downtowns, town centers, or village centers.

Substantial Rehabilitation

A substantial rehabilitation is a project that costs at least 15% of the pre-rehabilitation assessed valuation or $75,000, whichever is less. For historic structures, substantial rehabilitation means devoting at least 10% of the pre-rehabilitation assessed valuation or $5,000, whichever is less, to energy efficiency improvements in accordance with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation guidelines for historic structures.

Qualifying Structures

Qualifying structures must be located within the areas designated by the City as part of its adoption of the program. However, historic structures located anywhere in the City are also considered qualifying structures for purposes of the program.

Public Benefit

Public benefits are specifically set forth in the statute, including:
  • Enhancement of the economic vitality of the downtown; (RSA 79-E:7, I)
  • Enhancement or improvement of a culturally or historically important structure; (RSA 79-E:7, II)
  • Promotion of the preservation and reuse of existing building stock; (RSA 79-E:7, II-a)
  • Promotion of the development of municipal centers, providing for efficiency, safety, and a greater sense of community (RSA 79-E:7, III); or
  • Growth of residential housing in urban or town centers. (RSA 79-E:7, IV)

Once adopted, applications are reviewed by the City Council at a public hearing to determine whether the property and project comply with the program requirements. Approval of an application allows the property owner a finite tax relief period, during which the property tax shall not increase as a result of the substantial rehabilitation. Property owners may be granted 1-5 years of tax relief starting upon completion of the project. The City Council may grant additional years of tax relief for specific reasons:
  • Up to 2 years for projects resulting in new residential units. (RSA 79-E:5, II)
  • Up to 4 years for projects resulting in new affordable residential units. (RSA 79-E:5, II)
  • Up to 4 years for the substantial rehabilitation of a historic structure if the project adheres to U.S. Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. (RSA 79-E:5, III)
When a 79-E application is approved, the owner and the City record a ‘covenant', which protects the public benefit(s) that the project provides and ensures that the building is used and maintained as proposed. If the owner fails to abide by the terms of the covenant, the City Council must determine whether the public benefit has been diminished and whether to reduce or terminate the tax relief period. If the covenant is terminated, the governing body shall assess all taxes to the owner, with interest, as though no tax relief was granted.

Under the 79-E program, property taxes are not eliminated during the tax relief period. Instead, the property valuation simply does not increase as a result of the rehabilitation for a period of time to allow the owner to recoup some of the project costs. Following expiration of the tax relief period, the structure is assessed at its full market value including the rehabilitation.