Historic Preservation > Statewide Inventory & Collections > Barns

Property Tax Exemptions for Improvements to Pre-1937 Barns

In Chapter 427.1(31), Iowa Code includes a provision for property tax exemptions on improvements made to barns built before 1937. In short, any increase in assessed value added to a barn “for the purposes of preserving the integrity of the internal and external features of the structure” is exempt from taxation. The exemption applies to the assessment year beginning after the completion of the improvements to preserve the structure as a barn.

To qualify for this property tax exemption, the “barn” must have been placed in service before 1937 and be “an agricultural structure, in whatever shape or design, which is used for the storage of farm products or feed or for the housing of farm animals, poultry, or farm equipment.”

The application for exemption must be filed with the county assessor no later than February 1 of the first year for which exemption is requested. Forms are provided through the county by the Department of Revenue. The exemption application describes and provides a location for the barn. Once granted, the exemption continues as long as the structure continues to be used as a barn. There is no need to file for additional exemptions.

Unlike other financial incentives for historic properties, this property tax exemption does not require communication with the State Historical Society of Iowa. Please contact your county assessor directly for additional information.

Property Tax Exemptions for Historic Farmsteads

Another option included in the Iowa Code is a temporary property tax exemption for historic properties in Chapter 427.16. This temporary tax exemption primarily applies to properties listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, contributing to National Register Historic Districts or local historic districts, and properties designated as local landmarks by a county or municipal landmark ordinance.

The work completed must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (reviewed and approved by the State Historical Society of Iowa) and a minimum amount of rehabilitation investment is necessary to be eligible for this program. Two separate applications must be filled out for this program. For additional information please review the information on Temporary Property Tax Exemption.

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