Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemptions

Program Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemptions
Category Financial Incentive
Implementing sector State
Last Update
State Wisconsin
Administrator Wisconsin Department of Revenue
Technologies Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Solar Pool Heating
Sectors Residential

Wisconsin has two sales tax exemptions that apply to renewable energy. Legislation enacted in 1979 exempts wood sold as a fuel for residential use from the state sales and use tax (Wis. Stat. § 77.54(30)). Residential use means use in a structure or portion of a structure which is the person's permanent residence. A clause was added in 2007 expanding the exemption to include sales of all biomass -- as defined in Wis. Stat. § 196.378 (1) (ar) -- used as fuel for residential use. This definition includes wood, energy crops, biological wastes, biomass residues, and landfill gas.

The original Wis. Stat. § 77.54(30) was also amended in 1987 to exempt the sale of qualifying biomass residues used as fuel for business activity from the state sales and use tax gross receipts. Qualifying residues are defined as arising from the "harvesting of timber or the production of wood products, including slash, sawdust, shavings, edgings, slabs, leaves, wood chips, bark and wood pellets manufactured primarily from wood or primarily from wood residue."

Separately, legislation was enacted in 2007 (Wis. Stat. § 77.54(56)) to exempt products whose power source is wind, solar radiation, or gas produced from the digestion of animal manure and other agricultural wastes from the sales and use tax, effective July 2009. However, in 2009 this section of code was amended (2009 Act 28) to delay the effective date of the exemption until July 1, 2011. In order to be considered an eligible product, devices must be capable of producing at least 200 watts of alternating current or 600 British thermal units per day. The exemption under does not apply to un-interruptible power sources that are designed primarily for computers. The law also exempts "receipts from the sale of and the storage, use, or other consumption of electricity or energy" produced by a qualifying system.

The Department of Revenue adopted an Emergency Rule in June 2011 to clarify the definition of "product." These rules were replaced with final rules (Tax 11.10) in August 2012. The rule reiterates that for the purposes of the exemption, "product" means "tangible personal property that converts wind energy, direct radiant energy received from the sun, or gas generated from the aerobic digestion of animal manure and other agricultural waste into alternating current electricity or heat." This does not include items that store the energy or consume electricity or heat, a foundation built for the system, items used to "convey, transfer, or alter" the generated electricity or heat, or items used to transfer or store liquids or gases used in energy generation. Certain exceptions apply; consult the rule for further details, or contact the Department of Revenue.

Generally, purchasers must complete Form S-211, Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate and provide the completed form to the seller in order to claim the sales tax exemption. Questions should be directed to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.


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