Community Revitalization Tax Relief (79-E)

Issues Addressed:
Housing Costs Infrastructure Redevelopment

What is it?

The Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive provides temporary tax relief for a property owner to rehabilitate or replace their building in a village or downtown area. The tax relief program is authorized under state law RSA 79-E, and so the program is often referred to as “79-E.”

Though it’s a state law, the program must be adopted locally to go into effect. To be eligible for the tax relief, the property owner must provide a “public benefit.” Eligible public benefits include the creation of housing in town centers, preservation of the existing building stock, economic development in town centers, and more. For any 79-E project, a covenant specifying the public benefit owners will provide is placed on the property’s deed.

Under the program, a property owner can apply to the Select Board or a similar body to delay an increase in property taxes caused by the increase in valuation from rehabilitation. The delay can last for up to five years for eligible projects at the local Governing Body’s discretion. Additional years of tax relief may be added at the Governing Body’s discretion for specific benefits: up to two additional years for the project’s inclusion of housing and up to four additional years for the inclusion of affordable housing, as well as up to four years for rehabilitation of a property National Register of Historic Places, state register of historic places, or is located within and important to a locally designated historic district. 

The tax relief does not decrease the property owner’s taxes or provide permanent tax relief. Following expiration of the tax relief, the property is taxed at its full market value, taking into account the rehabilitation.

A property owner can apply for the tax relief only if:

  • The building is located in the community’s downtown district (or equivalent neighborhood business district), as defined by the community (see Considerations for further detail).
  • The rehabilitation costs at least 15% of the building’s pre-rehab assessed value, or $75,000, whichever is less.
  • The rehabilitation is consistent with the municipality’s master plan or development regulations.

How can it help?

The Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive can…

  • Preserve buildings of historical significance in a downtown or village area.
  • Spur economic development in a downtown or village area.
  • Encourage infill development.
  • Direct investment to areas where infrastructure and public facilities already exist, preventing increased costs to expand that infrastructure.
  • Reduce demand for conventional greenfield development, thus reducing pressure on natural resources and open spaces.
  • Fix old and deteriorating buildings, reduce the number of vacant buildings and lots, and otherwise revitalize disinvested areas.
  • Encourage development that fits the historic architectural character of New Hampshire’s towns and villages.
  • Provide amenities to surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Conserve energy by directing development to established areas.

Getting Started

  1. Recognize and promote 79-E’s impact on common master plan goals, such as increased housing options, economic development in downtowns and village centers, open space preservation, and historic preservation.
  2. If undertaking a master plan, include adoption of 79-E housing as a recommendation, and designate a district officially as a downtown, town center, central business district, or village center.
  3. Through a community engagement process, determine as well as what types of development and which specific sites within the downtown or village center area would be most appropriate and desirable for 79-E development.
  4. Draft legislation to adopt RSA 79-E. If not already in your master plan, the legislation should define your community’s “village” or “downtown” area through zoning.
  5. Adopt that legislation via the relevant public body (Town Meeting, Town Council, City Council, etc.).
  6. Upon adoption, develop application materials and a process for property owners to apply for the 79-E program. This should include application forms that require detailed testimony on the nature and costs of the rehabilitation and public benefits.
  7. Promote the 79-E program to property owners in the village or downtown area, as well as property developers who are locally active. Send letters to these stakeholders, post the process and application materials to your community’s website, etc.


  • Per RSA 79-E:2, II, a development is only eligible for this relief, if the “building is located in a district officially designated in a municipality’s master plan, or by zoning ordinance, as a downtown, town center, central business district, or village center, or, where no such designation has been made, in a geographic area which, as a result of its compact development patterns and uses, is identified by the governing body as the downtown, town center, or village center.”
  • The key trade-off for this program is property redevelopment versus increased local tax revenue. The tax relief is only relevant if the real estate market is otherwise unable to redevelop properties in these areas of your community, due to a “cold” market or the extraordinary costs of redevelopment. 
  • Ideally, the need for relief would be backed by history of the sites in the target area and up-to-date real estate financial analysis.
  • Your community should hold public outreach which explains the goals of the program, clarifies how the village or downtown area is established, the requirements for local property owners, and the nature of the tax relief and covenant.
  • All applications for tax relief under 79-E are given a public hearing by the relevant governing body (i.e., the Select Board or City Council). The governing body has full discretion to approve or deny the application.
  • Existing structures can be rehabilitated or replaced. In the case of a replacement, the governing body must work with the local Historic District/Heritage Commission and/or other local or state bodies to show the existing structure has little historical, cultural, or architectural value before approving the application.
  • Your community can adopt stricter eligibility criteria for projects.
  • Historic structures outside of village or downtown areas are eligible for the 79-E program if they are listed or eligible for the National or State Register of Historic Places.