The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC or Tax Credit) program was created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 as an alternate method of funding housing for low- and moderate-income households, and has been in operation since 1987.
Until 2000, each state received a tax credit of $1.25 per person that it can allocate towards funding housing that meets program guidelines (currently, legislation is pending to increase this per capita allocation).
This per capital allocation was raised to $1.50 in 2001, to $1.75 in 2002, and adjusted for inflation beginning in 2003. These tax credits are then used to leverage private capital into new construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing.
The tax credits are determined by the development costs, and are used by the owner. However, often, because of IRS regulations and program restrictions, the owner of the property will not be able to use all of the tax credits, and therefore, many LIHTC properties are owned by limited partnership groups that are put together by syndicators. In this manner, a variety of companies and private investors participate within the LIHTC program, investing in housing development and receiving credit against their federal tax liability in return.