In a recent case, the Tax Court ruled in the taxpayer’s favor as to three California distributed generation solar projects’ eligibility for the energy credit under Section 48 and bonus depreciation under Section 168. However, the Tax Court did reduce the taxpayer’s basis in the projects, and the taxpayer in the case enjoyed significant procedural advantages due to mistakes by the IRS.
In Golan v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-76 (June 5, 2018), in late 2010 a solar contractor installed solar equipment on the roofs of three host properties and entered into power purchase agreements (“PPAs”) with the property owners. The PPAs provided that the hosts would purchase electricity generated by the solar equipment at a discount to utility rates, while the solar contractor would retain the ownership of the equipment, including the right to any tax or other financial benefits, and would service and repair the equipment.
Mr. Golan, the taxpayer, in 2011 purchased the solar equipment, subject to the PPAs, from the solar contractor for a purported purchase price of $300,000, which was the sum of a purported $90,000 down payment, a $57,750 credit for certain rebates, and a $152,250 promissory note (which the taxpayer was the obligor under but the taxpayer also provided a personal guarantee thereof). The solar projects were not connected to the grid until after the taxpayer acquired them in 2011. The IRS unsuccessfully sought to disallow the taxpayer from taking energy credit and depreciation deduction with respect to the solar equipment.
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