In August 1997, the federal government established a Brownfields Tax Incentive Program, under the Taxpayer Relief Act (Pub. PL 105-34). This program allows costs for environmental cleanups on properties located in certain targeted areas to be claimed as fully deductible business expenses in the year in which the costs are incurred or paid. Expenditures made within the period from August 5, 1997 through December 31, 2009 are eligible.
The Brownfields Tax Incentive was initially applicable to properties that met specific land use, geographic, and contamination requirements. The geographic requirements were removed on December 21, 2000 leaving only land use and contamination qualifications for expenditures on or after December 21, 2000.

Amendments to the Brownfields tax incentive in December 2006 expanded its scope to allow the deduction of expenses for the cleanup of petroleum products that were previously ineligible.  The new eligibility for petroleum products applies to cleanup expenses incurred from January 1, 2006 to the tax incentive's current expiration date of December 31, 2009.

Businesses seeking deductions for cleanup costs on property located in Massachusetts must obtain from a written certification from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that the property meets the eligibility criteria listed below.

To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:

I. Qualified Contaminated Site Criteria

  • The property must contain a release, threat of release or disposal of a hazardous substance as defined in CERCLA section 101(14), 102 and 104 (a)(3). Properties contaminated with only petroleum, including crude oil, and natural gas products, and synthetic gas products usable for fuel, are now (as of 12/06) eligible for the Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive. Properties listed in the EPA's National Priority List (NPL) are excluded from this program.

II. Targeted Area Criteria (for Cleanup costs incurred BEFORE December 21, 2000) 
The property must be located in at least one of the following areas:

  • EPA Brownfields Pilot Grant Area OR
  • Federal Enterprise Community/Empowerment Zone OR,
  • Census Tract with 20 percent or more of the population is below the poverty level OR,
  • Census Tract with a population under 2000, and has 75 percent or more of its land area zoned for industrial or commercial use, and is adjacent to one or more census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more.

The Department will evaluate the information you provide in the enclosed Application for Certification of Eligibility. If your application is successful, the Department will provide a written Certification of Eligibility which must be submitted to the US IRS with your tax forms.

NOTE: Other eligibility criteria also apply. See Taxpayer Relief Act of 1977, Pub. L. 105-34.

To apply for a certification, please complete the attached Application Form with any needed supporting information and submit it to:

Kerry Bowie
MassDEP Brownfields Coordinator
Department of Environmental Protection
One Winter St.
Boston, MA 02108

Should you have any questions regarding the Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive Program or the Department's certification application process, please contact Kerry Bowie by telephone at (617) 556-1007 or by e-mail at kerry.bowie@state.ma.us.

Application Kit

Instructions for completing the application

Application for Certification of Eligibility 

For work completed before December 21, 2000 pdf format of Application For Certification Of Eligibility doc format of Application For Certification Of Eligibility (contains geographic criterion)

For work completed on or after December 21, 2000 pdf format of Application For Certification Of Eligibility doc format of Application For Certification Of Eligibility (no geographic criterion)

Eligible Hazardous Substances List - Where to Find it

Municipalities Containing Geographic Areas Meeting One or More Target Area Criteria

US EPA Brownfields Tax Incentive Fact Sheet

IRS Publication 954: Tax Incentives for Empowerment Zones and Other Distressed Communities