The Route 1 Tax Credit Program encourages revitalization along the Route 1 corridor by helping owners of commercial and industrial properties renovate and improve the appearance of their properties. Commercial or industrial properties that are mixed use with residential components are not eligible. The property must have frontage onto Route 1, and/or be adjacent to a property with Route 1 frontage, or be within the defined perimeter of Elkridge shown in the Tax Credit Tracking Map below. The project improvement must be clearly visible from a roadway to contribute to the aesthetic improvement of the corridor.

Additionally, to qualify, the property must also be under 15 acres in size and have no outstanding code violations with the Department of Inspections, Licenses, and Permits or Department of Planning and Zoning. Reauthorization was passed by the County Council in November 2020 which extends the Tax Credit Program through the taxable year ending June 30, 2026.

Aerial of the Route 1 Corridor

How to Apply


Below are the documents needed in the program.

Step 1: Complete the tax credit application to confirm eligibility. Once this project has been deemed suitable for the tax credit by the Project Review Committee, the work can begin.

Step 2: After the work has been completed, submit the following forms:

If this tax credit is of interest to you, please contact Victoria Olivier or Morgan Gillard at (410) 313‐2350 or reach us via email at route1taxcredit@howardcountymd.gov to schedule a time to meet for a video chat or phone call to discuss your proposed scope and next steps.


Overview of the Process

  • The new round of applications opens every July while the program is active and applications are evaluated on a rolling basis until the annual $250,000 allocation is exhausted for the year. 
  • In order to receive the tax credit, the applicant must submit the application with cost estimates from contractors which itemize all work to be completed. Photos of the projects current condition will need to be submitted with the application to compare the before and after impacts.
  • Howard County staff will perform due-diligence to ensure the parcel matches ownership, is current on property taxes, and that there are no outstanding Zoning-Code Compliance, Licensing and Permits or Fire violations.
  • An inter-departmental Program Review Committee will then vote to approve or deny the scope based on eligible scope and the visual impact the project will have on the corridor. 
  • In order to receive a tax credit, no work can proceed until the Certificate of Eligibility is issued.
  • Once work is complete, the applicant will be required to submit a Route 1 Final Tax Application, maintenance agreement, and final invoices no later than April 1st. All verified expenses must have been incurred after the Certificate of Eligibility was issued.
  • A representative of the County will schedule a site inspection visit to verify that the full scope of work, as approved by the Program Review Committee, was completed.



    Key Considerations

    • Applicant should be current on property taxes, and have no outstanding Zoning-Code Compliance, Licensing and Permits or Fire violations.
    • The proposed improvements must comply with the Route 1 Manual, county development standards, and bulk zoning regulations, as applicable.
    • Approval for project eligibility does not eliminate the need for any building permit or sign permit that may be required. Those permits may be applied for in the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits located on the first floor of the Howard Building at 3430 Court House Dr., Ellicott City, MD. Any questions regarding the permit process or requirements should be directed to the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits at (410) 313‐2455.

    Eligible and Ineligible Improvements


    Eligible Improvements Include:

    1. Exterior renovations to a building façade;
    2. Exterior painting and cleaning of a building façade;
    3. Structural improvements to a building façade;
    4. Removal, replacement, or rehabilitation of false facades, architectural features or siding;
    5. Restoration, enhancement, or addition of primary architectural features;
    6. Installation, replacement, or enhancement of streetscape amenities (e.g. landscaping, walkways, seating areas, bike racks, lighting, etc.)
    7. Repair or replacement of doors, windows, and trim work;
    8. Structure-mounted signage, canopies and awnings;
    9. On-site free-standing signage;
    10. Cornices, parapets, and other visible roof repairs;
    11. Screening of Utility, trash and storage enclosures;
    12. Enhanced exterior building lighting that creates a noticeably enhanced appearance;
    13. Fencing that does not obscure the building;
    14. Sidewalks;
    15. New Construction that enhances the building or property and is visible;
    16. Interior work necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the building, or
    17. Other upgrades, renovations or improvements made to a property deemed appropriate by the Program Review Committee.


    Ineligible Improvements Include:

    1. Improvements to building interiors;
    2. Refinancing existing debt, permit, legal, and loan fees, etc;
    3. Installation or repair of mechanical equipment, the installation or repair of electrical or plumbing systems, and the installation, relocation or repair of utilities;
    4. Routine maintenance;
    5. Removal of architecturally significant features;
    6. Security enhancements;
    7. Demolition;
    8. Replacements of existing fixtures that constitute repairs, or
    9. Other work deemed inappropriate by the Program Review Committee

    Amount of Tax Credit


    The maximum amount that a single parcel can claim is up to $100,000. If a parcel has an approved application and due to unforeseen circumstances the cost estimate exceeds the initial amount the applicant could be eligible for 125% of approved expenses, up to 100k. It should be noted that the full tax credit amount is only realizable if your property taxes total above the full cost of the tax credit claim over those five years. Additionally, the tax credit is bound to the parcel and not the owner so if the owner sells the property, the tax credit will remain with the new owner.

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