No More Home Energy Tax Credits for 2017?

Sorting through my tax-return paperwork reminded me to check the IRS website to see what new 2017 Federal tax credits are available that I can share with you fine home-improvers. As it turns out, there isn’t much to report. At the time I post this, the only tax credit listed for home improvement is a 30-percent return on installation of a solar energy system.

What strikes me about a solar energy system is that they have a high upfront cost, so high that people in the lower to mid income brackets—the people who most need and benefit from a tax credit—probably can’t afford to install one in their home.

However, only a few years ago the average U.S. homeowner had been granted tax credits for a number of practical and affordable home improvements. You could claim a credit for upgrading your home’s insulation system, or installing insulated windows or doors. You could get a credit for installing a tankless water, adding a radiant barrier system or an Energy Star-certified roof. Other energy-efficient systems that qualified include biomass stoves, air-source heat pumps, and central air conditioning systems.

Judging from the IRS website, those days of tax credits are long gone. Maybe the page hasn’t yet been properly updated, but it sure seems like the IRS should have the budget to get the job done. After all, the Congressional Budget Office reported that tax receipts hit an all-time high in first half of fiscal 2016, with the Federal government taking in nearly $3.3 trillion in revenue. That’s a whole lot of tax money taken from people who work hard to earn it.

A tax credit is not money given to an individual by the government, but rather it’s money an individual has earned and they’re so graciously allowed by the government to keep. And the purpose of those expired tax credits was to encourage home-improvements that contributed to more energy-efficient lifestyles across the country. Well, the Feds seems to have said, “To heck with energy efficiency, give us more of your money!” And they’re getting it.

So, if you thought the Federal energy tax credits were a good idea to benefit the environment through energy-efficient living, or if you thought they were a good idea because you got to keep more money in your wallet, maybe it’s time to let your congressman know how you feel.

— M. Weber

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