Navigating Solar Tax Credits for Greater Efficiency

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In this guide, we will focus on solar tax credits and solar leasing options in Illinois, to help homeowners and businesses take advantage of these programs and save on their energy bills. By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of how these government solar programs work and how you can take advantage of government grants for solar programs, including federal government solar incentives, solar tax credits, and even information on the possibility of leasing your solar power system.


Table of Content:


  1. 1. Solar Incentives in the US
  2. 2. How Solar Tax Credits Can Save Money
  3. 3. FAQs
  4. 4. Solar Tax Credits 101
  5. 5. Solar Leasing


Shining a Light on Savings: Solar Incentives in the US


Solar energy is an increasingly popular way to power homes and businesses across the US, but the efficiency of solar panels comes at a cost. The purchase price of solar panels can be a barrier for many. Fortunately, there are several government solar programs, grants for solar panels, and solar incentives available to help make the transition to solar power more affordable.

Planning for the Future: How Solar Tax Credits Can Help You Save in the Long-Term


One of the biggest barriers to transitioning to solar energy is the upfront cost of installing solar panels. However, with solar tax credits and other solar incentives, homeowners and businesses can receive a significant reduction in the cost of installation. In Illinois, residents can take advantage of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which allows for a credit equal to 30% of the solar installation costs on their federal taxes.

This tax credit applies to both residential solar panels and commercial installations, and there is no maximum limit on the amount that can be claimed. This can make the transition to solar energy more accessible and affordable, and help you offset the initial costs of installation.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the tax credit for solar panels?

The tax credit for solar panels is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax that homeowners owe. This federal tax credit is also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and it reduces the cost of installing a solar panel system for homeowners who qualify.

Homeowners can claim a credit equal to 26% of their solar installation costs in 2021, and the credit will decrease to 22% for systems installed in 2023. To qualify for the credit, homeowners must own their solar panel system either by purchasing it with cash or through financing. The solar panel system must be installed during the tax year.

How can you get free solar panels from the government?

At the moment, there aren’t any programs that offer free solar panels from the government. However, many federal government solar incentives are offered, including solar grants and tax credits for homeowners and businesses that invest in renewable energy. Homeowners can claim a federal tax credit equal to 26% of their solar installation costs in 2021, which will decrease to 22% in 2023.

Additionally, there are state solar initiatives, and some utility companies offer subsidies for solar panel installations, as well as solar panel rebates, and performance-based solar incentives. It’s important to check for these grants for solar panels, subsidies, and other solar initiatives with your state’s energy department.

Does home insurance cover solar panels?

Residential solar energy installations are generally included in standard homeowners insurance policies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). But it is crucial to ensure that your solar panels are covered for their full value. Some policies may only provide partial coverage, leaving you vulnerable to losses in case of damage or theft.

Additional coverage may be required to protect your solar panels from potential damages caused by natural disasters or other hazards. It is recommended to consult with your insurance provider to confirm whether your policy includes solar panel coverage, and to consider obtaining additional coverage if necessary to fully protect your investment in solar energy.

What insurance companies cover solar panels?

Some insurance companies offer coverage for solar panel systems. Here are some examples of companies that provide coverage or partner with solar companies to offer solar-specific policies:

  • GRNE Solar: A regional installer that offers coverage in Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa.
  • Windfree Solar: A local installer in California that partners with Farmers Insurance to offer solar-specific policies.
  • Sun Badger Solar: A regional installer that offers coverage in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Florida.
  • StraightUp Solar: A regional installer that offers coverage in Missouri and Illinois.
  • ADT Solar: A national provider that offers a solar-specific warranty.
  • SunPower: A national provider that offers solar-specific insurance coverage.

It’s important to note that not all insurance companies offer coverage for solar panels, and the availability of coverage may vary depending on your location and other factors. It’s best to check with your insurance provider or a solar company to see what options are available to you.

How much do solar panels cost?

The cost of solar panels varies depending on factors such as the size of the system, the type of panels used, and the installation costs. According to EnergySage, the average cost of a solar panel system in the United States is around $12,000 to $15,000 for a 5kW system. The cost of solar panel installation typically ranges from $2.50 to $3.50 per watt, which means a 5kW system can cost between $12,500 and $17,500 before incentives. However, after factoring in solar incentives such as solar tax credits, solar rebates, and other state solar initiatives, including solar grants and subsidies for solar panel installations, the net cost to the consumer can be significantly lower. Additionally, solar leasing programs can provide a low-cost option for those who want to go solar without the upfront costs.


Solar Tax Credits 101

Solar Tax Credits 101

What Is the Federal Solar Tax Credit?


The Federal Solar Tax Credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), is a federal solar incentive program that provides a tax credit for residential solar energy systems. The ITC solar tax credit was 26% but as of August 2022 now allows homeowners to claim a credit equal to 30% of the installation cost of their solar panels from 2022-2032. This government solar program also allows for backdated deductions on installations in 2020 and 2021, as well as systems installed on or before December 31, 2019. As of 2033, this federal solar tax credit program will decrease to 26%, then to 22% in 2034 before expiring in 2035, unless further modified by the U.S. Congress.

The Solar Investment Tax Credit

It is important to note that the installation of the system must be complete during the tax year to qualify for the solar tax credit. The ITC is a significant incentive for potential buyers and can reduce the taxable income of those who install solar power systems in the United States.


How Does the Federal Solar Tax Credit Work?


The Federal Solar Tax Credit allows taxpayers to claim a credit equal to a percentage of the cost of their solar panel system installation. The current federal solar tax credit stands at 30% of the total system cost.

For instance, if your solar energy system costs $20,000, you can receive a $6,000 solar tax credit. This tax credit can be applied to your federal income taxes, reducing your taxable income and potentially resulting in a refund. Do note that the ITC program is set to expire in 2032, with a gradual decrease in credit percentage each year until then.


What Does the Federal Solar Tax Credit Cover?


The Federal Solar Tax Credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), covers a percentage of the cost of installing a solar energy system in residential and commercial properties. As of August 2022, the ITC offers a 30% tax credit for solar panel installations completed between 2022 and 2032, but it also may include the same backdated deduction for solar panel installations in 2021, 2020, and on or before December 31, 2019.

The credit can be applied to federal taxes owed by the property owner. The credit covers the installation cost of a solar energy system, including equipment and labor, and applies to both purchased and leased solar panel systems. The credit can also be carried forward or back for future or past tax years if the full amount cannot be applied in the current year.


Learning If You’re Eligible for Federal Solar Tax Credit


The Federal Solar Tax Credit is available to homeowners who install a solar energy system in their primary residence. To be eligible for the credit, the solar panel system must be new and meet all relevant safety and performance standards. The installation of the system must also be complete during the tax year.

It’s worth noting that homeowners who lease their solar panel system or enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) are not eligible for the credit since they do not own the system. Additionally, the credit only applies to the portion of the solar panel system that is used for residential purposes, and not for any portion of the system that is used for business or rental properties.


How To Claim The Solar Tax Credit


To claim the federal solar tax credit, you will need to complete IRS Form 5695 and attach it to your federal tax return. You will also need to retain any receipts, invoices, or other documentation related to the purchase and installation of your solar energy system. The installation of the system must be complete during the tax year.

Once the system is installed, you can claim the solar tax credit equal to 30% of the total cost of your solar energy system. You can claim the solar tax credit even if you finance your solar panels through a loan, as long as you own the system. The federal solar tax credit is a great incentive for homeowners to invest in solar energy and reap the benefits of energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint.


How Other Solar Incentives Affect the Federal Solar Tax Credit


The federal solar investment tax credit, which is available in its current form until 2032, provides a tax credit of 30% of the total cost of your solar panel project. The amount of this solar panel subsidy will decrease each year in 2033 and 2034, but it will expire in 2035 unless there is further action by the U.S. Congress. However, state solar initiatives can also impact the overall cost of your project and influence how much you can claim in tax credits.

In Illinois, for example, there are no state initiatives for solar subsidies, but there are state-administered incentives such as the Illinois Solar Panel Rebates and Tax Credits, which includes the Illinois Shines program and the Illinois Solar for All program. Additionally, homeowners can take advantage of solar net metering and local incentives like the ComEd Solar Rebate. It’s important to research and understand all available incentives to maximize your savings and ensure eligibility for the federal solar tax credit.


Everything You Need to Know About Solar Leasing


Solar leasing can be a great option for homeowners who want to make the switch to solar energy without the upfront costs of purchasing and installing their own solar panels. Leasing allows you to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without a large initial investment. Instead, you pay a fixed monthly fee to the solar leasing company for the use of their solar panels.

This fee is often lower than your current utility bill, allowing you to save money from day one. Additionally, most solar leasing agreements include system monitoring and maintenance, taking the hassle out of owning a solar power system. However, it’s important to do your research and make sure the leasing company is reputable and the solar panels being used are certified quality.

What you need to know about solar leasing

How Does a Solar Lease Work?


A solar lease is a financing option for homeowners who want to install solar panels without making an upfront purchase. In a solar lease agreement, the solar panel provider handles the installation of the solar panels, and then leases the equipment to the homeowner for a fixed monthly amount.

Alternatively, the solar leasing company may sell the electricity generated by the solar panels to the homeowner at a set price per kilowatt-hour. This is a great option for homeowners who don’t want to commit to the upfront costs of purchasing solar panels and would prefer to make a fixed monthly payment instead. Additionally, some solar leasing agreements may offer the option to purchase the solar panels at the end of the lease term.


Is a Solar Lease Different from a Solar PPA?


A solar lease is a type of agreement between a solar panel provider and a homeowner, where the provider installs the solar panels on the homeowner’s roof and leases the equipment to them at a fixed monthly amount. The lease typically lasts for 20 to 25 years and includes maintenance, monitoring, and repairs for the solar panel system. With a solar lease, the provider remains the owner of the solar panels, while the homeowner benefits from the energy savings.

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is similar to a lease in that the solar company installs solar panels on the homeowner’s roof, but instead of leasing the equipment, the homeowner agrees to purchase the energy produced by the solar panels at a set price per kilowatt-hour. The monthly payments for a PPA are based on the amount of solar energy generated by the panels, while a solar lease has a fixed payment each month. However, it is important to consider purchasing your solar panels outright, as this can lead to long-term savings and greater control over your solar system.


What are the Terms of a Solar Lease?


Solar leases typically have a contract length of 20 to 25 years, which aligns with the lifespan of solar panels. To help you monitor your system, solar developers offer solar monitoring programs that allow you to track your solar panels’ performance. They will also keep an eye on your system to make sure it’s working properly and cover the costs of repairs if there are any performance issues.

Solar lease agreements will include a price escalator to account for the increase in the cost of electricity, which means your monthly lease payment will increase annually. If you move before the end of the solar lease, you can transfer the lease to the new homeowners or break the lease and have the panels removed. At the end of your solar lease, you have the option to renew the lease and remove the panels, or buy the panels at fair market value or a price outlined in the contract.


Solar Incentives Wrap-up


In conclusion, solar panels are an excellent investment for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their electricity bills. While there are pros and cons to leasing versus owning, taking advantage of government incentives can make it an affordable option for many households. With the help of solar tax credits and other local incentives, going green has never been more accessible.

By choosing solar energy, you can reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, help the environment, and save money on your energy bills. So if you’re considering making the switch to solar power, do your research, and find the best option for your budget and energy needs.


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