Federal Solar Tax Credits Available—What You Need to Know

Households who choose to install residential solar panels may be eligible for federal and state incentives.

Solar Tax Credit Explained

A tax credit is a one-to-one decrease in the amount of income tax you would typically have to pay. A $1,000 federal tax credit, for example, lowers your federal income tax liability by $1,000. The federal tax credit is commonly referred to as an Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, although it is not the same as the ITC available to firms that own solar panels.

The Federal solar tax credit can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar PV system. The equipment must be placed in service and generate electricity for a residence in the United States within the tax year. The IRS does not have a strong definition of what qualifies as "placed in service," but it has related it to completed installation.

Congress extended the ITC in December 2020, offering a 26 % tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022 and a 22% credit for systems installed in 2023. Unless Congress extends the tax credit, it is set to expire in 2024.

To give you a better idea of how this solar tax credit works, installing a $30,000 PV system will save you $7,800 in federal taxes ($30,000 x 26 percent), and if the tax credit is more than what you owe in federal taxes, you can carry over the unused credit to the next year. This rollover, however, is allowed only once.

What is Property-Assessed Clean Energy?

To assist the with the high initial costs of adopting energy efficient and renewable energy systems in homes and businesses, California established the Property-Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE financing program. The program funds the upfront costs of homeowners who set up solar energy and energy-efficient projects. Local or state governments are then paid back by the homeowners through an increased property tax bill that is paid over a period of 20 years. The PACE program is not only offered in California, but in other states as well.

Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems

As the value of your home rises, so does the amount you pay in property taxes. The municipal assessor in your tax district determines the current market value of the recent inclusions and adds them to the base value of the real property when you build new constructions, substantial refurbishments, or significant additions to your home.

The property exclusion for solar energy systems in California, on the other hand, prevents property tax rises when solar energy systems are installed. Active photovoltaic systems are not evaluated under this policy, which means you will not pay higher property taxes if you build a dynamic solar energy system. The benefit, which was slated to expire in 2016, was extended through January 1, 2025.

Time to Build Your System

In or to lock in the 26% tax credit before it drops to 22%, your new solar equipment needs to be installed during this tax year. Don’t miss out on the higher tax credit as well as the other benefits available now. A DIY Solar Power expert can assist you in designing a custom system for your home and help you with permits, design, and interconnection.

For more industry news and updates, be sure to follow DIY Solar Power on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To get your home solar project started, Build Your System now.

Disclaimer: For individuals interested in household solar photovoltaics, or PV, this article presents an overview of the federal investment tax credit. It is not intended to be taken as expert tax advice or other financial advice.