Taxpayer, give yourself green credit
Simple improvements on your home can decrease your carbon footprint and, happily, increase the number of dollars in your bank account!
Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 03:12 PM
If, like us, you're still leafing madly through 2007 receipts, check this out: Did you do any energy-saving home improvements, from simple weatherstripping or adding insulation to buying an Energy Star certified washing machine or boiler? Did you invest in big-ticket items like a solar energy system or a hybrid car? If you did any of the above, you may qualify for federal tax credits. Tax credits help ease April 15 pains because they reduce, dollar for dollar, the amount of tax you owe. Although most of these federal home improvement credits expired at the end of 2007, do not despair (see below)! Click here for more info on specific appliances and improvements. If you've bought or made 'em, download the form. And file away! Too much to do right now? File for an extension.
It gets better. Many states, such as New York, give tax exemptions for caulking and weatherstripping, and personal tax credits of up to $5,000 for solar energy systems. You may also be entitled to rebates from your state and/or electric utility for buying Energy Star qualified appliances or even just a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL). In Hawaii, for instance, you can get a $40 rebate for a ceiling fan, $75 for an Energy Star air conditioner, and $50 each for an Energy Star dishwasher, clotheswasher or fridge. New York gives rebates of $2 per package of CFLs, while Hawaii gives you $1-3 back.
To find out what you might be owed, click on your state on this map.
If you haven't done any of the above in 2007, you may still reap rebates, as state incentives will remain in place through 2008. Although the federal Energy Policy Act, which provided tax credits, expired at the end of 2007, an extension passed in the House in February, so hopefully taxpayers can look forward to at least the same, if not more, incentives this year. We’ll keep you posted.
And, if you're building a home, you can still reap up to $4,000 in federal tax credits for solar systems in 2008. Read about it here.
While hybrid car credits have been declining, they'll still give back a healthy chunk of change for some models, such as Ford Escapes and Honda Civics. But check the dates, because you may have to buy by June 2008. For more info, click here.
Credo: While you've still got that tax mindset -- or headache -- going, draw up your Energy Star and energy saving home improvement wish list for 2008. While credits are dandy candy, whatever you do will reduce your household's global warming emissions and save you money in the long haul.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.