Edwards signs solar tax credit fix into law

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a bill into law to correct a Jindal-era mistake that retroactively denied solar tax credits to more than 1,200 Louisiana homeowners.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a bill into law to correct a Jindal-era mistake that retroactively denied solar tax credits to more than 1,200 Louisiana homeowners.

Homeowners who installed solar panels in 2015 but were later denied the state’s solar tax credit because of a cap imposed in July 2015, will now receive the credits over the next three fiscal years.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue posted on its website Thursday that it will be sending notices July 6 to all eligible taxpayers who received the denial letters. Those individuals will not have to file a new claim, but anyone who installed a qualified solar panel system in 2015, did not receive tax credits and never received a formal denial letter will have to file a new claim electronically before Aug. 31.

WWL-TV exposed the snafu last year when the state notified solar panel customers that a cap on credits had already been reached. That meant some people who installed the panels in 2015, before any cap was ever imposed, would not get the credits they were promised for 2016 and would have to hope that they got a credit in 2017 or 2018.

The law signed this week makes sure those people get paid and shuts down the tax credit program from now on.

The state had been giving homeowners refundable tax credits of up to $12,500 to install the panels, but in an effort to save money in a budget crunch, the State Legislature set a cap on the credits that took effect in July 2015.

Several lawmakers later admitted they did not realize that the cap also would be applied retroactively, to everyone who had purchased the solar panels in the first half of 2015, before the law changed. A handful of legislators offered bills during the most recent session to correct the problem.

The final bill, House Bill 187, became Act 413 this week with Edwards’ signature. It is expected to cost about $15 million over three years, as the Department of Revenue pays the tax credits to the remaining taxpayers who installed systems in 2015 but did not receive credits. Instead of receiving a single credit of $12,500, they will get approximately $4,167 per year, starting with the fiscal year that begins Saturday.

Affected homeowners and solar industry groups were relieved.

“The governor’s signing of Act 413 lifts the financial burden retroactively placed on over 1,200 Louisiana families back in 2015,” said Jeff Cantin, head of the industry group Gulf States Renewable Energy Industry Association. “Advocates and businesses fought for two years to help these families get promised funding, and thanks goes out to all the supportive legislators and the governor for helping make Act 413 happen.”

The notice posted by LDR Thursday said anyone who has to file a new claim before Aug. 31 will have to provide supporting documentation by Nov. 1 to prove that the qualifying solar system was installed by Dec. 31, 2015.

Some taxpayers who had already received notices that they were a priority claim for the credits in 2017-18 are still scheduled to be paid in August and September of this year, LDR said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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