How to Qualify for the Federal Solar Tax Credit

Getting a solar panel for your home can be a great idea! It can save homeowners a lot of money on electricity bills, and it’s better for the environment. Plus, you get to save more money on tax credits too.

A tax credit is a decrease in the income tax you would have otherwise owed, dollar for dollar. For instance, getting a $2,000 federal tax credit lowers your outstanding $2,000 in federal income taxes. Although it differs from the ITC provided to firms that operate solar systems, the federal tax credit is occasionally called an Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of the solar federal tax credit.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

What Is the Federal Solar Tax Credit?

You may get a federal tax credit for solar panel installation. As a result, the tax payment will be reduced by the income tax credit you get.

The federal government established the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2006. Since then, the U.S. solar business has increased by over 10,000%, on average, every year during the last ten years. The sector has poured billions of dollars into the American economy and produced thousands of jobs. 

If the system is producing power for a house in the U.S., you are eligible for the ITC for the tax year in which you installed the solar panels.

For solar systems installed between 2020 and 2022, the ITC provided a tax credit of 26% in 2021; for systems installed in 2023, the tax credit will be 22%. Therefore, consider a 22% to 26% discount while determining if you want to install solar panels.

What Distinguishes the Qualifications for The Residential and Commercial Solar Tax Credits?

From 2023, the solar tax credit will be eliminated for households, while it will permanently decrease to 10% for any commercial property owners.

According to the regulations, for homeowners to qualify for the 26% ITC, the system must be built and operational by 2022. The procedures for claiming the tax credit for commercial developments in 2021–2022 are slightly different.

Therefore, the IRS included a clause known as a safe harbor in the ITC tax statute that enables business clients to maintain their tax credit for the current year by starting work on a solar installation. Owners of commercial properties either must pay 5% of the total project cost or start substantial physical work on the project to qualify for safe harbor.

Do You Qualify for The Federal Tax Credit for Solar Energy?

If you fit the following description, you could be qualified for this tax credit:

  • Between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2034, the solar P.V. system was installed entirely.
  • The home in the U.S. is where the solar P.V. system is situated.

And either:

  • The solar power system is yours. So, you must have purchased it through financing or cash but have yet to leash it or are paying solar companies to generate electricity through their system. 


  • If the power produced is applied to, and doesn’t exceed, the home’s electricity use, you bought a stake in a solar community project. 

Notes: According to a statement from the IRS, a specific taxpayer may receive a tax credit for investing in a solar community project. Nevertheless, other taxpayers might not even rely on the document, often known as the private letter ruling (PLR), as a precedent. Additionally, you are not eligible if all your power comes from solar community projects.

  • The P.V. solar system is either brand-new or is being utilized for the very first time. Only the “initial installation” of the solar panels is eligible for credit.

What Costs Are Covered?

The following outlays are comprised:

  • P.V. cells or solar P.V. panels (as well those powering an attic fan, but not the fan itself)
  • Balance-of-system equipment, such as cabling, mounting, and inverters equipment; Contractor labor expenses for onsite assembly, preparation, or first installation, including inspection charges, developer fees, and permit fees. 
  • Energy storage systems with a 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh) or higher capacity rating (for systems installed after December 31, 2022). The electricity storage devices are nevertheless subject to the installation date requirements even if they are built in the tax year that is later than the one in which the solar energy system was installed. 

Note: Other taxpayers might rely on something other than a private letter of judgment as precedent.

  • Sales taxes on permissible costs

How to Apply for The Solar Tax Credit?

You may only use the solar tax credit once after your solar power installation. You need to submit IRS Form 5695 and the tax return to claim the tax credit. The unused portion of the tax credit you could not receive in a single tax year may also be carried over.

State Incentives for Solar

Besides the federal ITC, several states and Puerto Rico provide solar incentives to entice homes to use solar systems. Although every state has its tax credits, rebates, incentives, and renewable energy certificates are a couple that is widely used. California, Minnesota, New York, and Texas are states with a lot of solar subsidies.

The solar incentives offered by each state differ significantly from one another. For more information, contact your installer and check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Various organizations provide various financial incentives for solar energy.

Federal Tax Credits

Like the federal ITC works, state tax credits apply to the state taxes. State-by-state differences in exact amounts are substantial and often do not affect the federal tax credits.

Rebates from State Government

Several jurisdictions provide upfront subsidies for installing a solar power system. Research rebates in the state to take advantage of the incentive before it expires since they are often only offered for a short period of time when funds are still available. The solar expenditures may be reduced by 10% to 20% thanks to the state government rebate.

Certificate for Solar Renewable Energy

One state-level solar incentive is a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC), also known as a Solar Renewable Energy Credit. Once you build the solar power system and register it with the relevant state agencies, authorities will monitor the system’s energy output and sporadically provide you with SRECs as a perk. You may sell the SREC to a buyer, such as the local energy company, who will give you money generally regarded as taxable income.

Federal Solar Tax Credit FAQ

Does My Rental Property Qualify for The Federal Solar Tax Credit If I Install Solar Panels There?

As per the Turbo Tax, even though the property does not have to be the leading home, you cannot use the residential solar tax credit for installing solar panels in any rental properties you own. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Energy states that the rental property can qualify for the business ITC under the IRC Section 48.

Additionally, suppose you rent, and the landlord adds solar panels. In that case, you will not be eligible for the federal solar tax credit because you need to own the solar system to be eligible for the credit.

What If the Value of My Tax Credit Exceeds the Amount I Owe?

The federal solar tax credit is non-refundable, so if the value of the credit exceeds the amount of taxes you owe, you won’t get a refund or check. However, that doesn’t imply that you won’t get its total worth. Any remaining value will be transferred to reduce the taxes the following year.

Let’s assume you put in solar panels and receive an $8,000 tax credit, but your federal income tax liability is just $5,000 instead. The remaining $3,000 of the tax credit will be credited to the taxes for the following year. Up to 5 years may pass before the tax credit expires.

Which Expenses Fall Within the Federal Solar Tax Credit’s Scope?

The federal solar tax credit can pay for most, if not all, of the expenses related to solar panel installations. Costs that qualify include:

  • Equipment: The price of the wiring, racking, inverters, and solar panels.
  • Contractor labor costs include the cost of labor for preparing the site, installing the equipment, and planning; they also include any fees for inspections and permits.
  • Sales tax: The tax credit also covers the sales tax related to the expenses above.

Solar installation tax credits are just some of the ones available. The tax credit is also available for geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell systems, solar water heaters, and even tiny wind energy systems!

Is The Federal Solar Tax Credit Available for Battery Storage Systems?

Yes, the 30% tax credit applies to energy storage. Due to the Inflation Reduction Act’s enactment, the entire 30% credit will be available for battery systems and solar panels starting in 2022.

You may anticipate a tax credit for energy storage of $3,000-$4,500 because household batteries typically cost $10,000-$15,000 to install. The battery cost will be factored into the total cost of the solar installation if it is installed together with solar panels. In addition to solar installations, standalone batteries will be eligible for the federal tax credit as of 2023.

In addition to solar installations, standalone batteries will also be eligible for the federal tax credit as of 2023. Additionally, batteries added after 2023 must have at least three kWh capacity. You probably will not be concerned about the minimum capacity requirement since most home storage batteries are approximately 10 kWh in size.

Why It’s Best to Install Solar Panels Now?

The Residential Clean Energy Credit’s rise to 30% indicates that going solar is wise. You may benefit from further savings and transition to an electric future for all home energy requirements. This historic piece of legislation demonstrates the government’s policy to advancing the renewable energy sector. It serves as a solid reminder to homeowners that the timing is ripe to put in the solar system. 

The solar tax credit is a significant contributor to the expansion of the solar sector. For several households, the cost of a solar power system without and with that tax credit would vary significantly. Due to this, there has never been a better time to install solar panels and make the most of the tax credit still in effect.

Can I Still Qualify for The Federal Solar Tax Credit If I Don’t Own a Home?

Yes, there are certain instances in which you may apply for the federal tax credit even if you don’t own a property. To qualify for the credit, you should belong to a condominium association or be a tenant shareholder of a cooperative housing organization.

Can You Make Two Claims for The Solar Tax Credit?

You can collect the solar tax credit only once you own the house. You can claim additional tax credits for solar systems on each property when you own more than one.

Additionally, you can claim a tax credit for the extra installation costs if you add more equipment to an established solar system. Generally, since every scenario is different, we recommend that consumers talk with a tax expert about any particular tax credit issues.

Do New Home Purchases Qualify for The Residential Solar Tax Credit?

Despite when the property was constructed or sold, if you purchase a new home with solar panels already installed, you still may claim the Residential Clean Energy Credit during the year that you have moved into. For instance, you could claim the Residential Clean Energy Credit on your 2022 taxes if the house was completed in 2020, you purchased it in 2021, but you didn’t move into it until 2022.

It would help if you verified to ensure that the builder hasn’t previously claimed the Residential Clean Energy Credit since it may only be claimed once. You can request a fair distribution for those expenditures if the builder has already claimed it and add it to the ultimate purchase cost.

Can You Still Get the Solar Tax Credit If You Lease the Solar Panel System?

Although you cannot get the Residential Clean Energy Credit outright if you lease solar panels, the leasing firm may utilize it to reduce the monthly costs.

Numerous solar firms provide leasing alternatives, covering the equipment and installation costs before charging you a monthly fee to operate the solar panels. The homeowner benefits from decreased monthly energy expenses, while the solar firm serves as a neutral third party and retains ownership of the panels for the duration of the lease.

The solar firm will typically earn the solar tax credit because they own the panels, but the homeowner will not be eligible for the tax advantages. Solar leasing firms may use the cost of those tax advantages to cut the monthly fees they charge homeowners, but this is often not a straight saving since the solar company wants to keep part of that value.

Although, once again, the business you lease from may utilize those benefits to offset their expenses and assist decreases in the monthly payment, you will not usually earn the majority of state and local solar subsidies if you lease the solar panel system. The financial advantages of purchasing solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) may sometimes be granted to you via a lease, although this relies on where the property is situated.

In Conclusion

Now you know how to qualify for federal solar tax credits! You will be able to reduce electricity costs, help the planet, and attain great tax credits for added savings.