Tax Breaks for Going Green

How To Save Money "Going Green"
How To Save Money “Going Green”

Going green isn’t just the next big thing—it’s the wave of the future. There is abundant information available about ways in which you can reduce your carbon footprint, save money and feel better about your role in the stewardship of this planet. Both federal and many state governments recognize the importance of energy savings and conservation and have provided tax breaks and incentives to businesses and individuals to encourage energy efficiency and going green.

Knowing what tax benefits may be available to you when you choose to go green may be enough to help you decide to start your own plan for energy conservation. There are certain tax breaks that are available just for businesses and others that individuals may take advantage of. Here is a discussion of green tax benefits and some of the tax breaks you may qualify for, either as an individual or as a business owner.

Tax Benefits Associated with Going Green

Tax benefits that are associated with going green can be classified as a tax credit, a rebate or savings in the cost of purchase. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your overall tax bill—if you qualify for a $1000 tax credit, it means you owe $1000 less in taxes. There are also loan and grant programs that states offer to certain businesses that serve as an incentive to encourage the use of alternative energy and green certified building materials in new building construction and renovations.

If you choose to install an energy efficient solar hot water heater, solar equipment that generates electricity or even a wind turbine before December 31, 2016, you may be eligible for tax credits associated with these installations.

Green Tax Breaks for Individuals

Green tax breaks that are available for individuals come in the form of tax credits, rebates or upfront savings. Depending on your tax situation, you may choose a program that offers a tax credit in order to reduce your tax liability. If you have a need for income upfront, a rebate or savings incentive may be in order. The types of programs that are available vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to find information in your local area about incentives that may be available to you as a resident.

For example, residents (including commercial and industrial sector businesses) of the State of California may qualify for a property tax exclusion of up to 100% of the value of the installation of a solar energy system in a new building construction. Illinois residents may receive a special assessment to reduce their property taxes by registering qualified solar energy equipment on their property.

Green Tax Breaks for Businesses

Just as individuals are provided with breaks for going green, businesses may want to get into the act as well. The Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010 helped to extend certain Federal energy tax benefits for businesses. These include tax credits for home builders, manufacturers and commercial buildings. There are also credits available to businesses that use vehicles that are hybrids, electric powered or use alternative fuels. Access to these green energy tax credits for business can be obtained through filing the appropriate form (such as Form 8908 and 8909).

Going green, either as an individual or as a business owner, isn’t just great for the environment, it’s great for your budget. There are numerous tax breaks and incentives available for using more energy-efficient vehicles, sustainable energy, and recycled building materials. Check with an R&G Brenner tax professional to see which tax breaks you might be entitled to. 

IRS Begins Accepting Tax Returns Today

IRS Accepting Returns Today
IRS Accepting Returns Today

After the longest delay in history, the IRS is now accepting electronic and paper tax returns for tax year 2012 as of January 30th, 2013.  The caveat is that many forms for both individual and business returns are further delayed including form 8863 Education credits.  The IRS has offered no specific date–only a general time frame of mid to late February–as to when these forms will be accepted.  If you are in real need of your refund and you are claiming one of the delayed forms, you could file your return without the forms in question and later amend your tax return to include these forms once the IRS approves them.  The following are a list of forms that are still not approved by the IRS as of today:

Forms affecting mainly individual returns

  • Form 4136 Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels
  • Form 4562 Depreciation and Amortization (Including Information on Listed Property)
  • Form 5695 Residential Energy Credits
  • Form 8396 Mortgage Interest Credit
  • Form 8582 Passive Activity Loss Limitations
  • Form 8839 Qualified Adoption Expenses
  • Form 8834 Qualified Plug-in Electric and Electric Vehicle Credit
  • Form 8910 Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit
  • Form 8936 Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit

Forms affecting mainly business returns

  • Form 3800 General Business Credit
  • Form 5074 Allocation of Individual Income Tax to Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Form 5471 Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations
  • Form 5735 American Samoa Economic Development Credit 
  • Form 5884 Work Opportunity Credit
  • Form 6478 Credit for Alcohol Used as Fuel
  • Form 6765 Credit for Increasing Research Activities
  • Form 8820 Orphan Drug Credit
  • Form 8844 Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Employment Credit
  • Form 8845 Indian Employment Credit
  • Form 8859 District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit
  • Form 8864 Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit
  • Form 8874 New Markets Credits
  • Form 8900 Qualified Railroad Track Maintenance Credit
  • Form 8903 Domestic Production Activities Deduction
  • Form 8908 Energy Efficient Home Credit
  • Form 8909 Energy Efficient Appliance Credit
  • Form 8911 Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit
  • Form 8912 Credit to Holders of Tax Credit Bonds
  • Form 8923 Mine Rescue Team Training Credit
  • Form 8932 Credit for Employer Differential Wage Payments