- Days left

Energy tax credit explained

solar panelsWe're having a real winter this year. As opposed to a few winters past, we've already seen several snows and have had the heater cranked up for months. I happen to live in an old house (and by old, I mean about 130 years), so heating it can be a challenge. Our old unit isn't cutting it anymore, and we're going to have to replace it. Fortunately, we might get a tax break for doing so.

Under current law, taxpayers may be eligible for a federal income tax credit for the purchase of a new energy-efficient water heater, air conditioner or furnace. But it doesn't stop there. The credit also applies to such improvements as windows and doors, roofs and insulation. You can find a detailed list of qualifying purchases on the Energy Star Web site.

The credit is equal to 30% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $1,500. The $1,500 limit is the total credit available for all purchases made in 2009 and 2010. For purposes of calculating the credit, you should include the cost of the improvement plus the cost of labor related to preparation, assembly, or original installation of the property.

Here's how it works: If the cost of a new air conditioning system was $3,000 in 2009, you can claim a credit of $900 (30% of $3,000) on your 2009 federal income tax return. If the system ran $5,000, your credit would be the maximum credit allowed, or $1,500 (30% of $5,000). Purchases over that amount would only qualify for the maximum credit of $1,500.

But here's the best part: Credits are dollar for dollar reductions in your taxes due -- as opposed to deductions which merely reduce your taxable income. In other words, that $1,500 in credit will offset $1,500 in taxes owed.

There are, of course, some restrictions. The improvements must be made to an existing home that qualifies as your principal residence. New construction and rentals do not qualify for the credit. A home is where you lived in 2009 and can include a house, houseboat, mobile home, cooperative apartment, condominium, or a manufactured home that conforms to Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.

To apply for the credit, you'll fill out a form 5695. For purposes of taking the credit, you can rely on the manufacturer's certification in writing that a product qualifies for the credit.You don't need to attach the certification to your return, but you should keep it for your records.

In addition to the federal income tax credit, some states offer energy tax credits that can be applied toward your state tax liability. You can see a list of states that offer incentives here.

It's a win-win in this economy. Sure it's an outlay upfront, but if you buy a qualifying improvement, you get the tax credit, and you'll save some money on your electric bill for years to come.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

How Does IRS Form 1095-B Affect Small Businesses?

IRS Form 1095-B provides information about health insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, requires that insurance providers send this form to those whose coverage meets the minimal standards of the law.

Tax Tips for Job Hunters

It's been said by many that looking for a job is a job in itself. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the deduction related to some costs of job hunting, the same way employees can deduct some unreimbursed job expenses. Not all job searches qualify, though, so it's wise to educate yourself on the rules.

What is Form 1095-C: Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Further, those employers must send an annual statement to all employees eligible for coverage describing the insurance available to them. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created Form 1095-C to serve as that statement.

What is Form 1098-E: Student Loan Interest Statement?

If you paid interest on a qualified student loan, you may be able to deduct some or even all of that interest on your federal income tax return. Student loan companies use IRS Form 1098-E to report how much you paid in interest. Borrowers get a copy of this form, and so does the IRS.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum