Going solar is incredible – and one of the early steps on the path is to decide if you want to re-roof before solar or wait. Solar panels last for many years. They are warrantied at 25 years and often last 40+ years. Doing the roof work now or removing and reinstalling for a re-roof down the road deserves careful consideration, and every one of our clients makes their own decision. We are here to provide accurate information along the way. We often get asked, “if we roll the re-roof into the project can we get the tax credit on the whole thing”? Read on for what we tell our clients on this subject.
Upfront Tax Disclaimer
We are not tax professionals & this post does not constitute professional tax advice or guidance. We have been in the solar market for 20 years, so we share our solar expertise first and foremost. Ultimately, the decision to take the cost of your re-roof on the Investment Tax Credit form is a choice between you, your family, and your tax professional.
At this time one of the largest incentives for solar is the federal Investment Tax Credit. The investment tax credit, otherwise known as the solar tax credit will allow you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar system from your federal taxes in 2021. It drops to 21% in 2023 then down to 0 for homeowners after that.
Can a taxpayer include the entire cost of a new roof in conjunction with the solar panels?
The answer: No
Don’t listen to any contractor or solar installer who tells you differently. We don’t want your family to be audited by the IRS. And we especially don’t want you or your family to have to repay the ineligible tax credit, plus interest, especially when you aren’t expecting it. While we have been around for twenty years earning our trustworthy reputation, we are sorry to see a growing trend of new “solar entrepreneurs” that are willing to cut corners on their integrity along with the quality of their work. Third Sun Solar will do neither.
Tax regulations can be tricky to understand for those of us who haven’t studied the IRS code. That’s why we’ve taken the bits only relevant to roofing and re-roofing. We take a deep dive here.
The IRS guidance for filling out Form 5695, explicitly states:
“Qualified solar electric property costs.
Qualified solar electric property costs are costs for property that uses solar energy to generate electricity for use in your home located in the United States. No costs relating to a solar panel or other property installed as a roof (or portion thereof) will fail to qualify solely because the property constitutes a structural component of the structure on which it is installed. Some solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles serve the function of both traditional roofing and solar electric collectors, and thus serve functions of both solar electric generation and structural support. These solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles can qualify for the credit. This is in contrast to structural components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function and thus do not qualify for the credit. The home doesn’t have to be your main home.”
When you go online, you’ll find different opinions interpreting the question posed.
Below we’ve done some research to debunk some of the biggest arguments for including the re-roof cost when you take the solar investment tax credit.
Problem 1: While the current iteration of the IRS guidance is clear, past iterations have been vague.
The eligible expenses section reads:
“Some solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles serve the function of both traditional roofing and solar electric collectors and thus serve functions of both solar electric generation and structural support. These solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles can qualify for the credit. This is in contrast to structural components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function and thus do not qualify for the credit.”
The IRS did not include these sentences in versions of the code from prior years. However, they are in there now. The last sentence clearly states that structural components of a roof do not qualify for the solar investment tax credit.
This is one key reason you see so much conflicting advice online.
Problem 2: Just because someone successfully claimed the tax credit for a wrong amount and didn’t get audited doesn’t mean they were correct in doing so.
The IRS form requires no proof of purchase, receipts, contracts, or invoices to prove how much you spent or what expenses were for. The form itself makes it easy to get away with anything. So, many people do. We don’t advise doing this!
Problem 3: Using the logic that “the roof supports the panels; therefore they must qualify” doesn’t work…. your entire house could qualify then, too, right?
You can’t have a roof without a house. So could you build a house, put solar on it, and claim it all as the solar tax credit?
In Conclusion: trust your experts, not someone trying to make a sale
Is the person telling you to use the solar tax credit for your roof a salesperson wanting your sale?
If it’s someone who just wants a sale, this exhibits low integrity. It’s a selfish approach and not based on facts, is not in your best interest, and probably says a lot about who you are dealing with. While it would be nice to take the tax credit against both costs, they aren’t eligible legally. Third Sun Solar can point you to the appropriate form, but how you fill it out is between you and your tax professional. In short, we are not tax professionals and do not offer tax advice. We encourage you to speak with yours to understand how you plan to use the solar investment tax credit.