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Layers of finance: Historic tax credits and the fiscal geographies of urban redevelopment

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journal contribution
posted on 19.08.2021, 15:41 by Renee TappRenee Tapp
Growing tax credit markets to preserve historic structures, deliver affordable housing, and encourage investment in distressed communities reveal intensification in the financialization of real estate. This paper develops a case study of federal historic tax credits to argue that there are multiple and interrelated processes of financialization at work within a single building, including tax sheltering. Drawing on commodification and marketization literatures in critical human geography, this paper illustrates how the fracturing of property rights by the tax code refashions buildings into ‘bundled’ financial assets. It uses qualitative and quantitative data collected in 2016–2017 to (i) demonstrate the production of new inventories of historic buildings through the revaluation of old structures, (ii) examine overlapping geographies of tax and finance produced by the strategic alignment of state and federal tax law, and (iii) discuss the creation of secondary credit markets by financial investors through the unbundling of the capital stack. Although historic tax credits—and tax credits in general—are now an integral part of real estate financing, the market for tax credits provides valuable theoretical insights into the variations of urban financialization that co-exist in the same physical space.


Doctoral Dissertation Research: Tax Credits, Historic Preservation, and the Redevelopment of Modernist Architecture in the United States

Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences

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Tapp, R., 2019. Layers of finance: Historic tax credits and the fiscal geographies of urban redevelopment. Geoforum, 105, pp.13-22.


Elsevier Geoforum