If you’re considering solar, you’ve probably heard about the federal solar tax credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The Federal ITC makes solar more affordable for homeowners and businesses by granting a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction equal to 30% of the total cost of a solar energy system.
What does 30% actually mean for the average solar shopper? According to EnergySage marketplace data, the average national gross cost of installing a solar panel system in the first half of 2015 was $29,225. At that price, the solar tax credit can reduce your federal tax burden by $8,768 – and that’s just one of many rebates and incentives that can reduce the cost of solar for homeowners.
There’s plenty of information out there about the value of the residential ITC, but figuring out how to actually claim the credit when it comes time to file your taxes is another story. We’ll walk you through it.
First things first: am I eligible for the solar tax credit?
You are eligible for the Federal ITC as long as you own your solar energy system, rather than lease it. If you sign a lease agreement, the third-party owner gets the solar tax credit associated with the system. This is also true for the vast majority of state and local incentives for solar, although in some special cases a lease will grant you the financial benefits associated with the sale of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). You are also eligible even if the solar energy system is not on your primary residence – as long as you own the property and live in it for part of the year, you can claim the solar tax credit.
If your federal tax liability is lower than the total amount of your ITC savings, you can still take advantage of it by carrying over any remaining credits to the following year.
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