If you’re a builder or developer, there’s a chance you’re not taking advantage of the 45L Tax Credit for Builders, an incentive to build greener and more environmentally sustainable residential properties.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about this credit and how you can qualify to begin saving money today.
What is the 45L Tax Credit?
Named after section 45L of the Internal Revenue Code, 45L Tax Credit, this federal tax credit is issued to developers and contractors who construct energy-efficient residential properties.
This tax credit was originally established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which called for the development of grant programs and tax incentives to promote energy efficiency in housing and vehicles.
The 45L was recently reinstated as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). This federal law was written to curb recent inflation through several means including investing in promoting clean energy alternatives. This initiative includes providing substantial incentives for the design and construction of energy-efficient residential buildings.
As part of the IRA, the 45L tax credit gives eligible contractors up to $5,000 for each qualifying unit that is either constructed or completely renovated.
What Are the Requirements?
Most of the information you find on the 45L tax credit will contain words like “eligible” when discussing who qualifies for the incentive. Part of the federal law that established this credit delineates requirements for what types of buildings qualify to receive the credit.
First, eligible properties do not necessarily have to be new construction projects to qualify. Residential properties that have been appreciably remodeled or renovated to meet energy efficiency standards are also eligible to qualify.
Before the additional changes set forth by the IRA that came into effect in 2023, residential buildings that qualified had to show proof of consuming at least 50% less energy through heating and cooling. In addition, the building envelope needed to account for at least one-fifth of these improvements to energy use. Finally, the building needed to be certified by an independent agency. Learn more on our detailed Inflation Reduction Act FAQ page: Questions on the 45L Credit and 179D Deduction.
Changes to the requirements went into effect starting January 1, 2023. One change is the residential and mixed-use buildings are required to obtain either an ENERGY STAR or Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification. These certifications indicate that the buildings meet both the national and state requirements for energy efficiency as laid out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Additionally, if the property is for mixed-use purposes, 50% of the property’s total square footage must be made of residential units and common areas. This does not include any parking garages that are part of the property.
Eligible contractors of multi-family residential properties now also have the option of higher 45L tax credits if they follow prevailing wage requirements. These wages are the average wage a specific type of laborer can expect to receive in a specific region. Contractors who wish to take advantage of the 45L credit bonus must prove that all workers on their construction project earn a wage equal to or greater than the prevailing wage.
Want to learn more? We created a detailed page on How to Get the Most from the Inflation Reduction Act.
What are the Requirements for Single-Family Homes to Qualify?
To qualify for a 45L tax credit, your energy-efficient construction should demonstrate heating and cooling energy consumption that falls below national energy standards. Modern construction already keeps energy efficiency in mind in design and building to keep up with current trends and the consumer’s desire to own greener homes.
This means that the property must meet or exceed Energy Star 3.1 requirements which consider things such as:
- The dwelling’s thermal enclosure system
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC)
- Water management systems
The types of residential buildings that qualify for the tax credit, whether new constructions or substantially rehabilitated dwellings include:
- Custom and tract single-family homes
- Duplexes and triplexes
- Apartment complexes
- Student housing
How much credit is received depends on whether they are certified as ENERGY STAR or ZERH. For example, a single-family home can earn a $2,500 credit if certified according to the ENERGY STAR Single Family New Homes Program. A $5,000 credit can be earned for single-family homes certified as the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program.
Who Can Benefit from the 45L Tax Credit?
Two parties can directly and indirectly benefit from taking advantage of the 45L tax credit: contractors and developers and homeowners.
Qualified contractors and developers directly benefit when they design energy-efficient buildings and construct them using energy-efficient materials. While these materials cost more, this extra cost is offset in a couple of ways. First, the 45L tax credit can help builders recoup some of that extra money. Also, the required certification allows developers to advertise the building as “green” which attracts consumers who are seeking more sustainable housing that will help their monthly utilities budget.
Consumers also indirectly benefit from living in energy-efficient homes. More efficient heating, air conditioning, and lighting mean lower utility bills each month as well as peace of mind knowing you are reducing your carbon footprint. Additionally, the resale value of the home could be higher due to consumers looking for energy efficiency in their new home search.
We can help you save money with the 45L federal tax credit.
Are you ready to take advantage of the 45L federal tax credit as a builder or developer?
Green Insight can partner with you to ensure you meet all the energy efficiency requirements on your next residential building project. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you build greener while getting money back.
Or grab your FREE guide, “How to Get the Most from the Inflation Reduction Act.”