2019 extender legislation – energy credits

In December, 2019, Congress passed legislation to extend some tax provisions until December 31, 2020.  Since some of the provisions had expired on December 31, 2018, congress not only extended the legislation but also resurrected the provisions retroactively to January 1, 2018.  This means that you not only can apply the tax breaks to your 2019 and 2020 tax returns, you can also amend your 2018 return to tax advantage of the tax savings if they apply to you.

The top tax breaks that have been brought back that will affect the individual taxpayer are:

  • The exclusion from income for the cancellation of acquisition debt on your principal residence (up to $2 million)
  • The mortgage insurance premiums deduction as resident interest
  • The 7.5% floor to deduct medical expenses on Schedule A of your individual tax return (instead of 10%)
  • A deduction for above-the-line tuition and fees
  • The deduction for nonbusiness energy property credit when you have energy-efficient improvements to your residence.

In addition to the nonbusiness energy credit, Congress also retroactively reinstated the energy-efficient home credit and the energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction for improvements back to January 1, 2018 through improvements placed in service by December 31, 2020.

The nonbusiness energy property credit and the residential energy-efficient property credit are for residential property owners.  The nonbusiness energy property credit is available when there are improvements for energy-efficient windows, doors, roofs and added insulation.  This credit is applied to the cost of the improvements but not the installation cost.  The residential energy-efficient property credit is applied the cost of qualified residential solar panels, solar water heating equipment, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.  This credit is applied to the cost, as well as, the assembly and installation expenses.

The energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction was originally enacted in 2005 but expired on December 31, 2017.  With the retroactive reinstatement of this deduction (179D deduction), taxpayers may be able to claim the deduction for any qualifying property placed in service from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2020 without filing amended tax returns.  The credit is applied to commercial property which includes apartment buildings with at least four stories.  The improvements must be made to the heating, cooling, ventilation, or hot water systems; interior lighting system; or to the building’s envelope.  The credit is up to $1.80 per square foot.  The credit is taken in the first year similar to bonus depreciation.

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