You can take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act's tax credits now, but you'll have to wait a little longer for the rebates.
If you're planning a home improvement project, the Inflation Reduction Act could act as your coupon.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress passed in 2022, provides nearly $369 billion for renewable energy equipment and energy efficient home improvements. This money will be available for the next decade so you don't need to rush your project to take advantage of the latest home energy tax credits and incentives.
There's a lot of planning involved with a major home improvement project such as solar panels or a heat pump and that takes time. The new law allows you plenty of time to consider your projects, according to Rebecca Foster, the CEO of VEIC, a clean energy nonprofit.
"I know there's a lot of excitement, but I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on opportunities for stacking and really maximizing the benefits they can get from this legislation," Foster told CNET.
In fact, you may reap more benefits by waiting for all of the IRA's incentives -- like its two rebate programs -- to take effect.
Right now there are two tax credits you can claim. When the rebates roll out, likely in 2024, you might be able to combine rebates and tax credits.
If you're considering a future home energy upgrade, here's what tax credits and rebates will be available.
The energy efficient home improvement credit, previously known as the nonbusiness energy property credit, can help offset the cost of qualifying home energy efficiency upgrades, reducing your overall energy usage. This provision only applies to existing homes, not new ones.
Previously, there was a lifetime cap which is now replaced with an annual one. Starting in 2023, if you make qualifying improvements every year through 2032, you can take advantage of this credit each tax year -- worth up to $3,200 -- again and again, according to Andrew Griffith, a CPA and associate professor of accounting at Iona University.
"Now, you aren't confined to a lifetime limit as you make these improvements," Griffith told CNET. "You can actually enjoy the benefit of it multiple times over."
The amount you receive will depend on what improvements were made and what year they were completed in.
There are also price caps on what you can claim for certain improvements, such as a $150 limit for home energy audits.
To qualify for the incentive, improvements must meet certain energy efficiency requirements. If you're unclear if your property is covered, check with a tax professional. You can also see the Consortium for Energy Efficiency Directory of Efficient Equipment for a searchable database of qualifying equipment. Here's a look at the qualifying energy efficiency appliances, according to IRA guidance.
Receiving credits is contingent on meeting efficiency standards from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, Energy Star requirements for doors and windows or building codes, like the International Energy Conservation Code or the National Electric Code.
|Improvement||Available for 2022 tax year||Available for 2023-2032 tax years||Efficiency requirements|
|Biomass stoves and biomass boilers||$300||30% of costs, including labor, up to $2,000||Must meet the Consortium for Energy Efficiency's highest tier of efficiency and have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%.|
|Central AC||$300||30% of costs, including labor, up to $600||Must meet the Consortium for Energy Efficiency's highest tier of efficiency.|
|Electric or natural gas heat pumps||$300||30% of costs, including labor, up to $2,000||Must meet the Consortium for Energy Efficiency's highest tier of efficiency.|
|Electric or natural gas heat pump water heaters||$300||30% of costs, including labor, up to $2,000||Must meet the Consortium for Energy Efficiency's highest tier of efficiency.|
|Exterior doors||10% of cost||30% of costs, up to $250 per door, up to a total of $500||Must meet or exceed Energy Star requirements.|
|Exterior windows and skylights||10% of cost||30% of costs up to $600||Must meet or exceed Energy Star requirements.|
|Home energy audits||NA||30% of costs, up to $150||Must include a home inspection by a certified auditor, followed by a written report.|
|Insulation||10% of cost||30% of costs, up to $1,200||Must meet International Energy Conservation Code standards.|
|Natural gas, propane or oil water boilers||$300||30% of costs, including labor, up to $600||Must meet the CEE's highest tier of efficiency.|
|Natural gas, propane or oil water heaters||$150||30% of costs, including labor, up to $600||Must meet the CEE's highest tier of efficiency OR meet Energy Star criteria.|
|Electric panel||NA||30% of costs, including labor, up to $600||Must be installed in accordance with the National Electric Code and have a load capacity of at least 200 amps.|
The residential clean energy credit grants residents a 30% tax credit for the purchase and installation of renewable energy equipment, like solar panels and small wind turbines.
Eligible renewable energy equipment includes:
There is no dollar limit on expenses. Homeowners can claim the 30% credit whether their project costs $20,000 or $100,000. The only price cap is for fuel cell installations -- $500 for each half kilowatt of capacity.
(The amount you can claim will drop to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034, before phasing out entirely in 2035.)
Eligible expenses include the cost of the qualifying equipment itself as well as any labor and installation costs. This provision is available to both existing and new homes. Renewable energy upgrades must meet certain efficiency requirements to qualify for the credit.
|Item||Available for 2022 tax year||Available for 2023-2032 tax years||Efficiency requirements|
|Battery storage technology||NA||30% of costs, including labor||Minimum generating capacity of three kilowatt-hours|
|Fuel cells||30% of costs, up to $500 per each half kilowatt of capacity||30% of costs, up to $500 per each half kilowatt of capacity||Minimum generating capacity of 0.5 kilowatts|
|Geothermal heat pumps||30% of costs, including labor||30% of costs, including labor||Must meet Energy Star requirements|
|Small wind turbines||30% of costs, including labor||30% of costs, including labor||Maximum generating capacity of 100 kilowatts|
|Solar systems (panels and water heating)||30% of costs, including labor||30% of costs, including labor||Must meet requirements of the Solar Rating Certification Corporation or a similar organization sponsored by your state's government.|
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You can claim both of the home energy provisions on IRS Form 5695, "Residential Energy Credits."
For both credits, projects are considered part of the tax year in which they were completed. If you paid for your project in 2022, but it wasn't finished until 2023, you would then claim the credit on your 2023 income taxes (which you'd file in 2024).
Before filing, have a record of any relevant product receipts and source documentation, like the manufacturer's certification, that the component meets energy efficiency requirements. You don't need to include these documents in your return, but Griffith says experts recommend keeping them for your records.
"Without [source documentation], you're not going to survive an audit and the IRS could disallow the credit," Griffith said.
The best tax software can help you identify all of your tax credits via a question-and-answer process and plug them into your return.
The legislation also outlined two rebate programs -- the Home Energy Performance Based, Whole House Rebate (HOMES) and the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate -- for home energy efficiency and electrification upgrades.
Each grant program will be administered by state energy offices according to parameters set by the Department of Energy. You likely won't be able to participate in either program until late 2023 or early 2024, according to the DOE.
While you can't take advantage of these programs yet, you should consider how you might use them when they eventually roll out.
"Start planning now. Especially if certain households are saving up for these expenditures, they will want to be first in line to get that rebate," Dirk Wallace told CNET. Wallace is a CPA and partner at Novogradac, a certified public accounting and consulting firm.
Both programs are designed to be point-of-sale rebates, meaning you will receive a discount upon purchase. Financial benefits will vary based on household income, the type of home energy upgrade (and its potential energy savings) as well as your state's own rules and requirements. The structure of each rebate program will look different depending on what state you live in.
"It could be a lottery, it could be first come, first serve," Wallace said. "But, I wouldn't wait for the guidance to start planning. Line up a contractor or at least start talking to one so that when [the rebates] do roll out, you'll be ready to go purchase those appliances."
Here's a closer look at the two programs coming down the pike.
The HOMES rebate offers incentives to homeowners who reduce their energy usage via retrofits like insulation upgrades and HVAC installations. The rebate amount will be based on the improvement's predicted percentage of energy savings.
The HOMES rebate will be available to both single-family and multifamily homes. The rebate amount is capped at 50% of project costs for households above 80% of the area median income. For households below 80% the area median income, the rebate amount increases to 80% of the cost.
|Projected energy savings||Maximum rebate for households above 80% AMI||Maximum rebate for households below 80% AMI|
|20-35%||50% of project costs up to $2,000 (maximum $200,000 for multifamily building)||80% of project costs up to $4,000|
|>35%||50% of project costs up to $4,000 (maximum $400,000 for multifamily building)||80% of project costs up to $8,000|
The High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate encourages low- and median-income households to electrify their homes by offering incentives for specific upgrades. This rebate will only be available to households below 150% an area's median income. There are price caps for how much you will be able to claim on each upgrade.
|Qualified upgrade||Maximum rebate|
|Insulation, air sealing and ventilation||$1,600|
|Electric load service center||$4,000|
|Energy Star electric heat pump clothes dryer||$840|
|Energy Star electric heat pump||$8,000|
|Energy Star electric heat pump water heater||$1,750|
|Energy Star electric stove, cooktop, range or oven||$840|
Correction, March 17: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect name for VEIC.