Since 1983, historic structures in all four of Hawaii’s counties have been preserved as a result of thoughtful ordinances exempting historic residences from real property tax. In 2004, the City & County of Honolulu also provided a 50% property tax exemption for historic commercial properties.
These exemptions provide an economic incentive to property owners to preserve historic buildings. The ordinances recognize that historic preservation provides a public benefit, but in many cases, the cost of that benefit is carried by private property owners.
Since no government—city, state or federal—will ever have enough money to acquire, restore and manage every single historic property in its jurisdiction, tax incentives provide an affordable and effective way to support hundreds of individual decisions to be good stewards of our collective historic and cultural legacy.
In order to ensure that the public benefit is protected, the historic residential tax exemption included conditions:
- the property must be a designated historic site on the state register of historic places;
- the property is restricted to residential use;
- the owner must comply with all historic preservation standards for its renovation, rehabilitation or other requirements; and
- the property must be visually accessible to the public.
In the City & County of Honolulu, the real property division also adopted rules that required that a sign or plaque be placed on the property and that “the public shall be allowed visual visitations at least twelve days a year if the property is not visually accessible by a public way.”
Historic Hawai‘i Foundation
680 Iwilei Road, Suite #690, Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: 808-523-2900 Fax: 808-523-0800
Copyright 2003-2010 Historic Hawaii Foundation unless otherwise noted.