Note: The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376) made several significant changes to this tax credit, including expanding the eligible technologies, extending the expiration date, modifying the scheduled step-down in its value, providing for new bonus credits, and establishing new criteria to qualify for the full credit. It also phases out this tax credit under section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code and replaces it with a new technology-neutral tax credit under section 48E of the Internal Revenue Code. The summary below describes the current section 48 tax credit as modified by the Inflation Reduction Act, and below that, the new 48E tax credit.
The federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been amended a number of times, most recently and most significantly by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. That bill established new prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for larger system to qualify for the full 30% tax credit. In late-2022 or 2023, the Treasury Secretary will issue guidance for these new labor provisions. The credit for different project types and available bonus credits is described below.
Projects under 1 MW (or larger projects that are commenced no more than 60 days after the Treasury Secretary develops labor guidelines) do not need to meet the new labor standards established by the Inflation Reduction to receive the full 30% tax credit. Such projects that begin construction after 2021 and before 2025 can receive the full tax credit of 30%. Note, projects that commence construction on or after January 1, 2025 can receive a tax credits under the new Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit (48E) described below.
Projects over 1 MW that begin construction 60 days after the Treasury Secretary releases labor guidelines and no later than January 1, 2025 will receive a base tax credit of 6%. However, projects can qualify for the full 30% tax credit if they ensure that all laborers and mechanics involved in the construction of the project or the maintenance of the project for 5 years after project completion are paid wages at rates not less than prevailing wages. Projects must also ensure that a percentage of total labor hours are performed by qualified apprentices. The percent of hours increases over time to a maximum requirement of 15% in 2024 and thereafter. Note, projects that commence construction on or after January 1, 2025 can receive a tax credits under the new Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit (48E) described below.
Projects in which 100% of any steel or iron that is a component of the facility and 40% of the manufactured products that are components of the facility were produced in the United States can qualify for the Domestic Content Bonus. Projects that are under 1 MW and projects that are larger than 1 MW and meet the labor requirements specified above, the Domestic Content Bonus increases the tax credit by 10 percentage points. For larger projects that do not meet the labor requirements, the Domestic Content Bonus increases the tax credit by 2 percentage points.
Projects that are located within an energy community can receive the Energy Community Bonus. To qualify, a facility must be located at one of the following: (i) a brownfield site, (ii) a metropolitan or non-metropolitan statistical area which (A) has (or, at any time during the period beginning after December 31, 2009, had) 0.17% or greater direct employment or 25% or greater local tax revenues related to the extraction, processing, transport, or storage of coal, oil, or natural gas, or (B) has an unemployment rate above the national average for the previous year, or (iii) a census tract or a census tract that is adjoining a census tract in which a coal mine has closed after 1999 or a coal-fired electric generating unit was retired after 2009. Projects that are under 1 MW and projects that are larger than 1 MW and meet the labor requirements specified above, the Energy Community Bonus increases the tax credit by 10 percentage points. For larger projects that do not meet the labor requirements, the Energy Community Bonus increases the tax credit by 2 percentage points. Note, these percentage bonuses are applied to the base credit amount, not the installed cost of the project.
Solar and wind facilities less than 5 MW may also be eligible for low-income bonuses. A project built in a low-income community as defined by the New Markets Tax Credit or on Indian Land can receive an increased tax credit of 10 percentage points. A project associated with a low-income residential building project or a low-income economic benefit project can receive an increased tax credit of 20 percentage points.
Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Waste Energy Recovery. Qualified waste energy recovery property means property that generates electricity solely from heat from buildings or equipment if the primary purpose of such building or equipment is not the generation of electricity. The term “waste energy recovery property” does not include any property that has a capacity in excess of 50 megawatts.
Energy Storage Systems, both paired with generation and installed as a stand-alone system
Thermal Energy Storage Systems
Qualified Biogas Property
Interconnection Property associated with the installation of energy property with a maximum net output of not greater than 5 MW-AC to provide for the transmission or distribution of the electricity produced or stored by such property, and which are properly chargeable to the capital account of the taxpayer.
Section 13801 of The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 also established procedures for other parties to monetize certain tax credits, including this one, for equipment placed in service on or after January 1, 2023 and through December 31, 2032.
The direct pay option allows non-taxable entities to directly monetize certain tax credits. The provisions apply to nonprofits, a state or political subdivision thereof, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Indian tribal governments (as defined in Section 30D(g)(9)), any Alaska Native Corporation (as defined in Section 3 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), or any corporation operating on a cooperative basis which is engaged in furnishing electric energy to persons in rural areas. Such applicable entities can elect to be treated as having made a tax payment equal to the value of the tax credit they would otherwise be eligible to claim. The entity can then claim a refund for the excess taxes they are deemed to have paid. The option effectively makes this tax credit refundable for these entities.
The act also allows eligible taxpayers to transfer all or a portion of their eligible tax credits to an unrelated taxpayer. Transfers must be reported to IRS and only one transfer is permitted. Must be elected no later than the due date for tax filing for the tax year the tax credit is claimed.
Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit (48E)
Section 13702 of the Inflation Reduction Act created a new tax credit, the Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit to replace the traditional ITC for systems placed in service on or after January 1, 2025. The tax credit is functionally similar to the ITC, but is not technology-specific. It applies to all generation facilities and energy storage systems that have an anticipated greenhouse gas emissions rate of zero. The credit amount is generally calculated in the same manner as described above, but will be phased out as the U.S. meets greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. For a project whose construction is commenced in the year following the year in which greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity in the United States are equal to or less than 25% of the 2022 levels, the tax credit will not be reduced. However, for projects commenced in the second year following the target being met, the tax credit will be worth 75% of what it would otherwise be. Projects commenced in the third year will receive a credit worth 50%, and all projects commenced after then will not be eligible for a tax credit.