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When you invest in solar energy, you don’t only save on your energy bills but also get tax incentives.
These incentives are put in place to encourage people to switch to renewable energy or solar in Washington State. If the amount of money you save on your taxes is more than your investment, it makes financial sense to make the switch today.
For example, if you pay $10,000 for Puget Sound solar or South Sound Solar panels and recoup $4,000 in tax incentives, that covers 80% of your initial cost. You can start saving right away while getting off fossil fuels completely soon after.
The other 20% will be written off gradually over five years at 8% per year (if you’re in California). This means that even though only an additional $2,000 ($12,000 – $10,000) was spent over four years ($1,250 each year), nothing was actually paid during this time, thanks to the tax breaks.
The time value of money is an important consideration when deciding whether to take advantage of tax incentives.
Some solar panel installations qualify for the Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
These credits are generally applied to your income taxes in different ways but are basically a credit that can be applied against your income taxes at the end of the year.
If the tax credits exceed your income taxes, then you get a refund from Uncle Sam. This means that if you spend $10,000 on solar panels and pay only $3,000 in taxes thanks to these credits, you’ll actually make out with $7,000 after all is said and done – it pays to do your math.
Does the Government Offer Incentives for Solar Panels?
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The government wants to encourage people to switch to renewable energy. As a result, the federal government offers two types of tax credits for installing solar panels.
The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit applies only if you have a home that is owner-occupied. If you rent out your house or apartment, you do not qualify.
If fossil fuels are powering your home and you own it, then you may also qualify for this tax incentive. This credit can be applied against either income or capital gains taxes during tax season – whichever is greater.
For example, if your installation costs $50,000 and the ITC is 30%, then $15,000 of this investment can be written off up front on top of your capital gains from selling your home (which is also subject to the ITC).
This adds up to an effective tax rate of $0 for this cost. The remaining $35,000 would be written off over five years at 8% each year or about $2,500 per year after it’s paid off.
The federal government also offers a tax break called the Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which can potentially cover 30% of your total solar installation cost. This applies whether you own or rent and is taken as a direct credit on your income taxes.
For example, if you pay $10,000 in taxes and qualify for a 30% tax credit on your solar panel’s installation costs ($30,000), then that money will come back to you.
The ITC will be available for the next five years, but any unused credits can be carried forward indefinitely.
This means that if you get $20,000 in tax breaks over the next five years and owe $5,000 in taxes during that time, then you will get $15,000 back at the end of year 5 due to the carry-over provision.
How Does the Solar Tax Credit Work?
You are eligible for the solar in Washington State investment tax credit as long as you have a solar panel or solar energy system on your property. The credit can be applied to all solar panels or systems regardless of who sold them to you.
Solar energy systems must meet certain standards in order to qualify for these tax credits. For example, there must be at least one panel that is attached to your house, or your entire property does not have to be covered with solar panels.
The only thing that matters is that at least one part of the installation can generate electricity from sunlight. Here are the general criteria to be eligible for the solar tax credit:
- The solar panel system must be installed between Jan 2006 and December 31, 2023.
- The solar panel was installed on your residence in the US.
- You own the solar panel. This means you have financed the solar panel with a loan or have bought it. If you have signed a lease, you’re not eligible for the tax credit.
- The solar photovoltaic system is being used for the first time or is new. You can only claim the credit if you installed the panel originally. For example, if you bought a house with an existing solar panel, you will not be eligible for the tax credit.
What Does the Tax Credit Cover?
Homeowners who get 26% of the ITC can have the following things covered:
- Cost of solar panels
- Cost of installation, including inspection costs and permitting fees
- Home batteries that the solar equipment charges
- Sales taxes
- Any additional equipment, such as mounting hardware and wiring
Solar Tax Incentives in Seattle
- Duke Energy Carolina: The company offers a cash rebate when you install solar panels. The rebate pays up to $1 per watt of DC Solar panel capacity for commercial and residential properties.
- Santee Cooper: The company offers $1.60 per watt rebate when you install solar panels. You can apply this to your energy bill directly.
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Yes, Washington has a Solar Tax Credit of 25%. You can benefit from this tax credit if you meet the criteria.
This applies to homeowners who have installed solar panels on their property. The current legislation expires in 2023. You can benefit from this tax credit for 20 years after installation, so there are no time restrictions for this specific tax incentive.
No, the ITC only applies to homeowners whose property has solar panel systems that meet all of the requirements. If you do not own your home or do not have a system that meets these standards, then you will not be eligible for these credits.
Yes, you can sell your tax credit. While this doesn’t actually transfer the title of your solar panels, it does simplify matters if you want to sell them in the future.
The person who buys the tax credit is essentially buying a piece of paper that entitles them to some portion of any tax breaks that they get on their federal income taxes over time.
However, once these benefits expire at the end of the year or when installation is complete (whichever comes first), then the buyer and seller must split up profits and losses on an amortized basis with respect to production and capital expenditures relating to such solar energy equipment.
You get tax refunds if you pay less in taxes than your Solar Tax Incentives. This means that you end up with a refund at the end of the year, but it doesn’t mean that you get money if your tax credits exceed your income tax bills.
In this [unlikely] case, the cash credits would carry over until such time as they are used up in a future year – turning them into a traditional investment credit instead of a tax refund.
The tax credit you get for solar panels differs in each state and region. In Washington, for example, there is a 25% tax credit.
You can claim solar financial incentives when filing your taxes during the year in which it was installed. The company that installs your system will give you all the necessary paperwork to do so if you want to go through with this process yourself.
Even if you have someone else do your taxes, it’s still fairly simple to claim solar financial incentives, although it may take an extra day or two for all of this paperwork to be sorted out.
If you pay $10,000 for installation and receive $5,000 in Federal Solar Tax Credits, then your tax savings will show up as $5,000 withheld on Form W-2 (the form that employers give their employees). As long as everyone filling out tax forms matches up with what was reported to the IRS by the employer, then no one needs to worry about anything more than that.