In its Finance Quarterly, A Word About Wind has published a brief Q&A between David Burton and its editor Richard Heap. The Q&A touches on a variety of issues related to wind in the US, including tax reform, the state of the tax equity market and repowering. We are pleased to be able to make PDF version of the interview available
In a recently released private letter ruling (available here), the IRS confirmed that residential solar energy batteries are eligible for the tax credit under Section 25D of the Code (the “Residential Solar Credit”), subject to an important and unexpected caveat.
In Priv. Ltr. Rul. 2018-03-009 (Mar. 2, 2018) (the “PLR”), the taxpayers had previously installed a solar energy system on their home and claimed the Residential Solar Credit. The taxpayers were now purchasing a battery to integrate into their existing solar energy system. The battery was designed such that charging would only occur when the solar energy system was producing energy and only up to the instantaneous solar power, thereby ensuring that all energy that was used to charge the battery would come from the solar energy system. The remaining useful life of the solar energy system was expected to exceed the useful life of the battery. The taxpayers posed two questions to the IRS: (1) Is the battery a type of property that is eligible for the Residential Solar Credit and, if so, (2) will the battery remain eligible for the Residential Solar Credit even though it was installed subsequent to the year in which the solar energy system was installed. Continue Reading Residential Solar Storage is Eligible for Tax Credit, Subject to a 100% Cliff
Pratt’s Energy Law Report has published our article 2018 and Onward: The Impact of Tax Reform on the Renewable Energy Market. We are pleased to be able to make a PDF version of the article available. (The article starts on page 6 of the PDF).
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) (the “Act”) was enacted on February 9, 2018. The Act is a two-year budget agreement that includes a number of provisions extending lapsed renewable energy-related tax credits; however, the Act does not change the amount or timing of the tax credits for utility scale wind or for solar.
The Act retroactively renews the tax credits for the so-called orphaned technologies that were left out of the 2015 extension for wind and solar, but for some of the orphaned technologies the tax credits are only available for projects that started construction prior to 2018; thus, limiting the tax planning opportunities, while rewarding bold developers that started construction in 2017 while the credits were lapsed.
Excise tax matters and energy related tax credits for homes, buildings, vehicles, nuclear power plants, Indian coal, biodiesel and biofuel are beyond the scope of this blog post. Continue Reading Bipartisan Budget Act Partially Reinstates Orphaned Energy Tax Credits
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association has published our article The Impact of Tax Reform: What Leasing Companies Need to Know (subscription required). We are also pleased to be able to make the article available in PDF format. The article addresses equipment leasing generally, rather than being renewables or tax credit focused.
A Word About Wind has published our article What Is the Impact of Tax Reform on US Wind Tax Equity Deals? in its blog (subscription required) and newsletter. If you are unable to open the blog post, the text of the article is available below:
On 22 December 2017, President Trump signed the first major reform of the United States tax code since 1986. Here are some of the ramifications of the reforms on wind tax equity transactions.
Corporate Tax Rate Reduced to 21%
In 2018, the corporate tax rate has been reduced from 35% to 21%. The rate reduction means that US corporations will pay significantly less federal income tax, so the supply of tax equity will decline. However, most tax equity investors are expected to still pay enough tax to merit making tax equity investments.
Importantly, the rate reduction means sponsors of wind projects will be able to raise less tax equity as depreciation deductions are worth only $.21 per dollar of deduction rather than $.35 per dollar.
100% Bonus Depreciation
A partial mitigant to tax rate reduction is that the act provides the option of claiming 100% bonus depreciation (i.e. expensing), so depreciation deductions can be available in the first year (rather than over multiple years). However, the partnership tax accounting rules hamper the efficient use of 100% bonus depreciation. Continue Reading What Is the Impact of Tax Reform on US Wind Tax Equity Deals?
On December 22, 2017, the president signed the tax reform bill. It is generally identical to the conference committee bill discussed in our blog post of December 19, and specifically there were no changes with respect to renewable energy, corporate income taxes, partnerships or expensing. Therefore, our analysis of the conference committee bill holds true for the enacted bill.
The changes that were made to the bill were minor and were required by the Senate’s parliamentarian to comply with the “Byrd rule” in order for the bill to be passed with only a simple majority of the votes in the Senate. First, the parliamentarian objected to the “short title” of the bill being “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The enacted bill does not have a “short title”, so it is being colloquially referred to as the act formerly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The parliamentarian’s other two objections related to aspects of the new tax on large endowments of colleges and universities and changes to the section 529 tuition reimbursement account program.
I suspect that as the act is studied by tax professionals that traps for the unwary, unexpected planning opportunities and technical glitches will be identified. To the extent they relate to the renewable energy industry, they will be covered in this blog.
Today, the House voted 227 to 303 in favor of the tax reform bill agreed to by the conference committee. No Democrats voted for the House bill, and 12 Republicans from high tax states voted against it. The Senate is expected to vote later this evening to approve it; it is possible that the president could sign the bill as early as tomorrow.
The enacted legislation is expected to be identical to the bill approved by the conference committee. Our analysis of the conference committee’s bill’s impact on the renewable energy market is below, which is followed by a chart that summarizes the relevant provisions in each of the three bills. Continue Reading House Passes Tax Reform & the Impact of Tax Reform on the Renewable Energy Market
The Stratton Report has published an interview with me that discusses the pending tax reform legislation: http://strattonreport.com/longforms/davidburtonmayerbrown/.
The US tax reform bill that the Senate passed on December 2, 2017—along partisan lines in a 51 to 49 vote—is a mixed bag for the tax equity market. The bill is now headed to the conference committee, consisting of House of Representative and Senate leaders, to be reconciled with the tax reform bill passed by the House on November 16.
Below we describe the five differences from the House bill that are of greatest significance to the renewable energy tax equity market. (See also our prior analysis of the ramifications for the tax equity market of the House bill.)
Amounts of and Eligibility for Tax Credits
First, the amount of renewable energy tax credits available and the rules for qualifying for those credits are unchanged from current law under the Senate bill. Specifically, the inflation adjustment that applies to production tax credits is left in place and the “start of construction” rules are unchanged. The fact that the Senate bill left these provision alone is positive for wind and solar, which are in the midst of a phase-out, for wind, and a phase-down, for solar.
However, the Senate bill also left alone the lapsed tax credits for the “orphaned” renewable energy technologies that were inadvertently omitted from the 2015 extension that benefited wind and solar. The orphaned renewable energy technologies are fuel cells, geothermal, biomass, combined heat and power, landfill gas, small wind, solar illumination, tidal power and incremental hydroelectric.
Proponents of those technologies may have more negative views of the Senate bill. There is still discussion of the tax credits for the orphaned technologies being included in an “extenders bill” to possibly be taken up after the tax reform process is over. Continue Reading Senate’s Tax Bill’s Impact on the Tax Equity Market: Five Differences from the House Bill