$ave Big on Your Solar Installation with Federal Tax Credit for Solar

An Ultimate Homeowner Guide Guide to Solar Tax Credit 

What is the Solar Tax Credit?

The Solar Tax Credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), is a federal incentive program in the United States that aims to promote the adoption of solar energy systems. It allows taxpayers to claim a credit against their federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of installing a solar energy system on their property. The solar tax credit was first introduced in 2005 and has since played a vital role in the growth of solar energy installations across the country.

How Does The Solar Energy Tax Incentive Work?

When you buy solar equipment for your house and have a tax obligation, you can typically utilize a solar tax credit to reduce your tax payment. The Residential Clean Energy Credit is a non-refundable credit, meaning it can directly offset your income tax liability, but any excess credit will not be reimbursed. If the credit surpasses your tax liability for the current year, you have the option to carry forward the unused portion to subsequent years as long as the credit remains valid.

  There are no income restrictions on the solar tax credit, making it available to all individual taxpayers who invest in qualifying solar energy equipment for their homes within the United States.

  However, if you obtain power generated by solar equipment through a lease agreement or a power purchase agreement, you do not qualify as the system owner and therefore cannot claim the credit on your tax returns.

Who Is qualified for Solar Power Tax Deduction?

To determine your eligibility for this tax credit, careful consideration of the following criteria is required:

  1. The installation date of your solar PV system must fall within the expansive timeframe spanning from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2034. This broad window ensures that a wide array of installations can be taken into account.

  2. The physical location of the solar PV system should be at one of your residential properties nestled within the expansive territory of the United States. This requirement aligns with the objective of supporting domestic solar power adoption.

  3. There are two potential ownership scenarios that warrant consideration. The first scenario involves outright ownership of the solar PV system. In other words, if you have acquired it using cash or financing methods without engaging in a leasing arrangement or paying a solar company for the electricity generated, then you qualify. The second scenario caters to those who have purchased a stake in an off-site community solar project, where the amount of electricity generated and credited should not surpass the amount consumed by your own home. Notably, an important point to remember is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a statement, accessible via the link provided above, which permits certain taxpayers to claim a tax credit for investing in an off-site community solar project. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that this statement, known as a private letter ruling or PLR, cannot be considered as binding precedence for other taxpayers. It is also important to note that simply purchasing electricity from a community solar project does not meet the criteria for eligibility.

  4. For the tax credit to be applicable, the solar PV system must either be newly installed or being utilized for the first time. This constraint ensures that the credit is exclusively granted for the initial installation of solar equipment, promoting the adoption of renewable energy practices.

What Cost Can Be Offset By The Solar Tax Credit?

The solar tax credit presents a valuable opportunity for individuals and businesses seeking to leverage the benefits of solar energy systems. This tax incentive serves to offset various expenses associated with solar installations. Qualifying costs that can be alleviated by the solar tax credit, also referred to as the investment tax credit (ITC), encompass:

Solar panel equipment:

The solar tax credit effectively reduces the financial burden of procuring and installing solar panels on residential or commercial properties.

Solar installation expenses:

This tax credit enables the mitigation of expenditures related to the installation process, encompassing labor costs, wiring, mounting apparatus, and other essential components.

Solar energy storage systems:

Should you opt to integrate a solar energy storage system, such as a battery, to store surplus energy generated by your solar panels, the solar tax credit can aid in offsetting a portion of the associated costs.

Solar inverters and monitoring equipment:

Costs incurred for solar inverters, which convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into usable alternating current (AC) electricity, can be offset through the solar tax credit. Moreover, expenses linked to monitoring equipment employed to track the performance and efficiency of the solar system can also be accounted for.

Permitting and inspection fees:

In certain circumstances, the solar tax credit can be utilized to alleviate expenses tied to acquiring permits and covering the costs of inspections required for the installation of solar energy systems.

It is important to note that eligibility criteria and the specific percentage of the tax credit may vary depending on jurisdiction and the type of solar system being installed. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the current regulations and requirements pertaining to solar tax credits in your region, it is advisable to consult with a tax professional or refer to official government websites.

What is the Offet Rate of Solar Tax Credit?

  • 30% – Projects where construction finishes between 2022 and 2032
  • 26% – Projects where construction finishes in 2033
  • 22% – Projects where construction finishes in 2034
  • 0% – Projects where construction finishes in 2035 or later

How Solar Tax Credit is Calculated?

Determine the eligible costs:

Identify the qualifying expenses that can be included in the calculation of the tax credit. These costs may include the purchase price of solar panels, solar installation expenses, energy storage systems, inverters, monitoring equipment, and other eligible components.

Determine the tax credit percentage:

The tax credit percentage is determined based on the current regulations and legislation in effect. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the solar tax credit in the United States is set at 26% for residential and commercial installations. However, it is important to note that tax credit percentages can change over time, so it is recommended to consult the most recent information from official government sources or seek guidance from a tax professional.

Calculate the tax credit amount:

To calculate the tax credit amount, multiply the eligible costs by the applicable tax credit percentage. For example, if the total eligible costs for your solar energy system installation amount to $20,000 and the tax credit percentage is 26%, the tax credit amount would be $20,000 multiplied by 0.26, resulting in a tax credit of $5,200.

Consider tax liability limitations:

In some cases, there may be limitations on the amount of the tax credit that can be claimed in a given tax year. If the tax credit exceeds your tax liability for the year, you may be able to carry forward the unused portion to future tax years, subject to any applicable rules and limitations.

Please note that the information provided is based on general knowledge and the tax credit regulations in effect as of September 2021. It’s always advisable to consult with a tax professional or refer to official government resources for the most accurate and up-to-date information on calculating the solar tax credit in your specific jurisdiction.

How Federal Solar Tax Credit Work With Other Incentives

When it comes to solar power, customers have the opportunity to make use of various incentives that can effectively reduce the overall installation costs of their system. These incentives encompass a range of options, including rebates from electric utilities, renewable electric certificates, state government rebates, and state tax credits. It is important to note that these reductions will impact the amount you need to report to the IRS on your tax return. 


Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as Solar Renewable Energy Credits, are state-level incentives. After installing your solar power system and registering it with the appropriate state authorities, your system’s energy production will be monitored. Periodically, you will receive SRECs as a benefit. These SRECs can be sold to your local energy utility or another buyer, providing you with payment that is typically considered taxable income.


State Tax Credits

State tax credits function similarly to the federal ITC but apply to your state taxes. The exact amounts of these credits vary significantly from one state to another, and they generally do not directly impact your federal tax credits


State Incentives for Solar Power

In addition to the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), several states and Puerto Rico offer their own solar incentives to encourage homeowners to adopt solar energy. While the specific incentives vary from state to state, there are a few common types: tax credits, rebates, and renewable energy certificates. Notable states with a significant number of solar incentives include California, Texas, Minnesota, and New York.


Net Metering

The solar tax credit and net metering work together to provide financial benefits for solar customers. The tax credit reduces the upfront cost of installing solar, while net metering allows customers to receive credits for excess electricity they generate. By combining these incentives, solar system owners can lower their overall costs and maximize their savings on electricity bills.

What Are The Steps to Claim Your Tax Credit

To claim the tax credit for your solar power installation, it’s important to follow the necessary steps and obtain the required documentation. Here’s a guide on what you need to do:

  1. Contact your solar provider to obtain the proper documentation and instructions for claiming the tax credit.

  2. As part of your tax return, you’ll need to file IRS Form 5695.

  3. In Part I of Form 5695, calculate the credit for your solar power system.

  4. Ensure that you classify your solar system as “qualified solar electric property costs” when filing.

  5. In your solar contract, locate the total costs of your solar project and enter this figure on line 1 of Form 5695.

  6. Complete the necessary calculations on lines 6a and 6b as specified in the form.

  7. Use the IRS’s Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit Limit Worksheet to determine any tax liability limitations. Calculate this on line 14.

  8. Complete the calculations on lines 15 and 16 of Form 5695.

  9. On your Schedule 3 (Form 1040), enter the exact figure from line 15 as mentioned in line 5.

  10. Remember that any unused amount of the tax credit can be carried over to future tax years if you were unable to claim it fully in a single year.

By following these steps and supplying the required documentation, you can successfully claim the tax credit for your solar power installation. Be sure to consult with your solar provider for accurate instructions tailored to your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most frequent questions and answers

The ITC is now a one-time credit. If you can’t utilize the whole amount when you file, you may carry the unused credit over to the next year. For instance, you would pay no taxes for the tax year when you filed the claim if you only owing $8,000 in taxes and were eligible for the $9,200 solar tax credit. The remaining $1,200 in taxes would then be waived for you for the following year.

Being a nonrefundable tax credit, which means the ITC amount is deducted from your tax obligation or the amount you owe the IRS, the solar tax credit often won’t boost your tax refund. You could get a refund if you overpaid taxes throughout the year as a result of the ITC’s decrease in your tax burden, but it won’t be enough to offset your tax liability for that year.

Because it is nonrefundable, you won’t get a tax refund for the excess of the tax credit over your tax obligation.If the decrease in tax liabilities indicates that there was an overpayment throughout the year, homeowners may get a tax refund at the end of the year as a result of the tax credit. When businesses withhold taxes from workers during the course of the year, this might happen often. However, the amount of this return is still capped by the taxpayer’s overall tax debt.However, you are permitted to carry over any unused tax credit funds to the next tax year.

The tax credit does not have a lifespan limit and neither does it have a cash cap. The credit is only capped at 30% of the eligible costs for in-service property in a given year.


No. Used property is won’t be able to claim the federal solar tax credit.

Is a tax credit available for the cost of a roof  replacement?

Not Always. The credit is not applicable to conventional roofing materials or structural parts that exclusively serve a roofing or structural purpose. However, certain solar roofing materials, such as solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles, may generate solar electricity while also providing structural support, therefore these products can be eligible for the credit.