Homeowners always like to save on their utility bills, and there are several tax breaks that are available for people who have installed solar panels on their homes. Reducing monthly energy expenses, finding tax credits and helping the world with a smaller foot-print is a wonderful opportunity.

In 2023, the federal spending bill that was extended the solar panel tax credit that has been affect for more than 10 years. It was extended by another five years and is making solar energy more affordable for millions of homeowners.

2024 looks to be another great year for homeowners to maximize tax-deductions with renewable energy incentives. Let’s examine the best tax-breaks for homeowners using solar and renewable energy.

What Is the 2023 Federal Solar Tax Credit?

The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a credit applicable to your federal income taxes, representing a reduction in your tax liability rather than a deduction or refund. Currently set at 30% of the total cost of your solar photovoltaic (PV) system, this credit is available to any U.S. homeowner, condo owner, or member of a cooperative housing corporation who owns a solar panel system. Notably, the credit cannot be claimed if you are leasing solar panels.

You are eligible to claim the credit in the tax year during which your solar system becomes operational. For instance, if the installation is finished in December 2023 but you obtain inspection and permission to operate (PTO) from your local utility in January 2024, the credit can only be claimed for the tax year 2024.

It’s important to note that the federal solar tax credit can only be claimed once. If the credit’s value exceeds your owed taxes, the surplus can be carried forward for a maximum of five years.

Take advantage of Local, State and Federal Government Incentives with Attractive Tax Credit on Solar Energy.

solar energy tax creditSolar Tax Credit Overview

The federal solar tax credit is better known as the investment tax credit. It allows homeowners to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar system on your home, from your federal income taxes. The ITC is in effect for residential and commercial solar systems. There is no cap on the price of the system. Because of the ITC, the average homeowner can save $5,000 or more by installing a solar panel system.

The federal ITC was first set up by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was supposed to expire at the end of 2007. Several extensions pushed this date back until the end of 2016. But many experts thought that another five-year extension would be beneficial for the solar industry. Because of the spending bill that was passed at the end of 2015, the federal tax credit is now an option for homeowners in one form or another through 2021.

  • 2016 to 2019 – The federal tax credit is 30% of the cost of the solar system. This means that you can still get a discounted price for the cost of your system in 2018 and 2019.
  • 2020 – Owners of the residential or commercial solar system will be able to deduct 26% of the cost from their taxes.
  • 2021 – Owners of the residential or commercial system will be able to deduct 22% of the cost from their taxes.
  • 2022 – Owners of the solar energy system can deduct 10% of the cost from their taxes.

Also, in earlier years, owners of the systems could not claim a federal tax credit unless the system was actually functioning. Now, federal legislation allows them to claim it as soon as the system is built, as long as it is working by December 31, 2023.

Do You Qualify for Renewable Energy Tax Deductions?

As long as you own your system, you can qualify for the federal solar tax credit. Even if you lack enough tax liability to claim the credit in one year, you are allowed to roll over the remaining credits into future years, as long as the credit is still in effect. But you should remember that if you sign a lease with your solar installer, you are not the owner so you cannot get the tax credit.

Eligible homeowners can claim their solar tax credit when they file their tax return each year.

More Information About Solar Tax Credits

One of the incentives that some home owners may not be aware of has been recently extended by the Internal Revenue Service. Developers of solar and renewable energy can claim a 30% tax credit for their solar projects as long as they can prove that they started construction by the end of 2019, according to a recent IRS notice. This means that breaking ground or investing in 5% of the total expected costs of installation, and they have until the conclusion of 2023 to complete the projects.

The guidance on this extended investment tax credit was better than the solar and renewable industry anticipated, according to experts at Credit Suisse Group AG. For projects that start construction after Jan. 1, 2020, the credit will be reduced to 26%. The incentive will also apply to fuel cell power plants and small wind turbines.

This news announced by the IRS is good news for large solar developers who will be able to avoid high solar tariffs that are imposed on imports through 2021, by most of their solar panels in future years and still qualify for the bigger tax credits.

On the state side of things, some offer additional tax breaks for the installation of a solar panel system. With a tax credit in your state, you can deduct part of the cost of the system from your state taxes.

Some homeowners also may be able to get a cash rebate from their state, municipality or utility company that wants to increase the number of people using solar energy.

Since the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the U.S. government has encouraged homeowners to transition to solar energy through the solar investment tax credit (ITC), commonly referred to as the federal solar tax credit. Although the rate of this credit has varied over time, it presently permits you to assert 30% of the overall costs of your solar system as a federal tax credit.

This guide provides information on the qualification criteria and the process for filing for the federal solar tax credit, allowing you to receive a financial benefit for installing a solar power system.

Can You Finance a Solar System with Second Mortgage?

Many homeowners choose a home equity line of credit to pay for solar. Second mortgages for home improvements are always a popular financing choice for homeowners. If the solar equipment is currently under financing or is leased from a solar company, it affects the title of the home. The loan obtained for the acquisition of solar panels is deemed a second mortgage.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association the cost $19,620 to purchase and install a 6kW solar panel system in 2022. The expenses fluctuate based on the location, the kind of solar panels, and the system’s size, with national approximations falling within the range of $14,500 to $30,000.

References: What are the best solar rebates and incentives in 2023?  and 2023 Federal Solar Tax Credit Guide