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Residential Tax Credit

Program Overview

  • Implementing Sector: Federal
  • Category: Financial Incentive
  • State: Federal
  • Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit
  • Administrator: U.S. Internal Revenue Service
  • Start Date: 01/01/2006
  • Expiration Date: 12/31/2023
  • Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Biomass, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Wind (Small), Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
  • Applicable Sectors: Residential
  • Incentive Amount: 26%
  • Maximum Incentive: Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximum Solar water heaters placed in service after 2008: no maximum
  • Equipment Requirements: Solar water heating property must be certified by SRCC or a comparable entity endorsed by the state where the system is installed. At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling’s water must be from solar.
  • Carryover Provisions: Excess credit generally may be carried forward to next tax year


This program has 1 Incentives PLEASE READ HERE


Note: The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, signed in December 2020, extended the phase out of this tax credit.

A taxpayer may claim a credit for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer. Expenditures with respect to the equipment are treated as made when the installation is completed. If the installation is at a new home, the “placed in service” date is the date of occupancy by the homeowner. Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year. The maximum allowable credit, equipment requirements and other details vary by technology, as outlined below.

Geothermal heat pumps

  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019
  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2023
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2022 and before 01/01/2024
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2023.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star criteria.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Biomass Heaters

  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 01/01/2023
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2022 and before 01/01/2024
  • Systems must have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%

Significantly, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by “subsidized energy financing.” For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.

Energy Storage

The federal tax code does not explicitly reference energy storage, so stand-alone energy storage systems do not qualify for the tax credit. However, the IRS issued Private Letter Rulings in 2013 and 2018, which address energy storage paired with PV systems. In both cases, the IRS ruled that the energy storage equipment when paired with PV met the statutory definition of a “qualified solar electric property expenditure,” as was eligible for the tax credit. It is important to note that Private Letter Rulings only apply to the taxpayer who requested it, and do not establish precedent. Any taxpayer considering the purchase of an energy storage system should consult their accountant or other tax professional before claiming a tax credit.


Established by The Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit for residential energy property initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, effective January 1, 2008. Other key revisions included an eight-year extension of the credit to December 31, 2016; the ability to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax; and the removal of the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems beginning in 2009. The credit was further enhanced in February 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.