Energy Incentives for Individuals in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Home energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives.
Update November 4, 2011 — The Residential Energy Property Credit (Section 1121) was set to expire at the end of 2010, but was extended for one year by the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010. The credit is available for property placed in service in 2011, but with new rules and limitations. For more information about the 2011 rules, see the Special Edition Tax Tip 2011-08, "Home Energy Credits Still Available for 2011."
Update: Use 2009 Form 5695 to claim the Residential Energy Property credit and the Residential Energy-Efficient Property credit.
For information on energy-efficient products, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energystar Web site; not all Energy Star products qualify for the tax incentive.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides tax incentives for individuals to invest in energy-efficient products.
Residential Energy Property Credit (Section 1121): The new law increases the energy tax credit for homeowners who make energy efficient improvements to their existing homes. The new law increases the credit rate to 30 percent of the cost of all qualifying improvements and raises the maximum credit limit to $1,500 for improvements placed in service in 2009 and 2010.
The credit applies to improvements such as adding insulation, energy efficient exterior windows and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems.
A similar credit was available for 2007, but was not available in 2008. Homeowners should be aware that the standards in the new law are higher than the standards for the credit that was available in 2007 for products that qualify as “energy efficient” for purposes of this tax credit.
For property purchased before June 1, 2009, homeowners generally can rely on the manufacturers’ certifications and Energy Star labels that were available at the time for those products. Manufacturers have been advised that they should not continue to provide certifications for property that fails to meet the new standards. The IRS has issued Notice 2009-53 that will allow manufacturers to certify that their products meet the new standards. Please note, not all ENERGY STAR qualified products qualify for a tax credit. For detailed information about qualifying improvements, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergyStar Web site and the EnergyStar Frequently Asked Questions site.
Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit (Section 1122): This nonrefundable energy tax credit will help individual taxpayers pay for qualified residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines. The new law removes some of the previously imposed maximum amounts and allows for a credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of qualified property. See Notice 2009-41.
Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Credit (Section 1141): The new law modifies the credit for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles purchased after Dec. 31, 2009. To qualify, vehicles must be newly purchased, have four or more wheels, have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds, and draw propulsion using a battery with at least four kilowatt hours that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. The minimum amount of the credit for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles is $2,500 and the credit tops out at $7,500, depending on the battery capacity. The full amount of the credit will be reduced with respect to a manufacturer's vehicles after the manufacturer has sold at least 200,000 vehicles. For more information see: Questions and Answers, Notice 2009-54 and Notice 2009-89.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle Credit (Section 1142): The new law also creates a special tax credit for two types of plug-in vehicles — certain low-speed electric vehicles and two- or three-wheeled vehicles. The amount of the credit is 10 percent of the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum credit of $2,500 for purchases made after Feb. 17, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2012. To qualify, a vehicle must be either a low speed vehicle propelled by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery with a capacity of 4 kilowatt hours or more or be a two- or three-wheeled vehicle propelled by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery with the capacity of 2.5 kilowatt hours. A taxpayer may not claim this credit if the plug-in electric drive vehicle credit is allowable. For more information see:IR-2009-44 and Notice 2009-58.
Conversion Kits (Section 1143): The new law also provided a tax credit for plug-in electric drive conversion kits. The credit is equal to 10 percent of the cost of converting a vehicle to a qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle and placed in service after Feb. 17, 2009. The maximum amount of the credit is $4,000. The credit does not apply to conversions made after Dec. 31, 2011. A taxpayer may claim this credit even if the taxpayer claimed a hybrid vehicle credit for the same vehicle in an earlier year.
Treatment of Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit as a Personal Credit Allowed Against AMT (Section 1144): Starting in 2009, the new law allows the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit, including the tax credit for purchasing hybrid vehicles, to be applied against the Alternative Minimum Tax. Prior to the new law, the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit could not be used to offset the AMT. This means the credit could not be taken if a taxpayer owed AMT or was reduced for some taxpayers who did not owe AMT.
The Recovery Act
On Feb. 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 at the urging of President Obama, who signed it into law four days later. A direct response to the economic crisis, the Recovery Act has three immediate goals:
Create new jobs and save existing ones
Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending
The Recovery Act intended to achieve those goals by providing $787 billion in:
Tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses
Funding for entitlement programs, such as unemployment benefits
Funding for federal contracts, grants and loans
In 2011, the original expenditure estimate of $787 billion was increased to $840 billion to be in line with the President's 2012 budget and with scoring changes made by the Congressional Budget Office since the enactment of the Recovery Act.
To achieve the transparency goal, the Act requires recipients of Recovery funds to report every January, April, July, and October on how they are using the money. All the data is posted on Recovery.gov so the public can track the Recovery funds.
In addition to offering financial aid directly to local school districts, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and underwriting the computerization of health records, the Recovery Act is targeted at infrastructure development and enhancement. For instance, the Act provides for the weatherizing of 75 percent of federal buildings and more than one million private homes.
Construction and repair of roads and bridges as well as scientific research and the expansion of broadband and wireless service are being funded.
There is no end date written into the Recovery Act because, while many of Recovery Act projects are focused on jumpstarting the economy, others are expected to contribute to economic growth for many years.
To view the full bill, click here.