MACRS Depreciation for Solar Energy Systems

MACRS, or the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System, is a method of depreciation commonly used for tax purposes in the United States. It allows businesses to recover the cost of certain assets over a specified period, thereby reducing taxable income and ultimately lowering tax liability. For businesses investing in solar power, understanding MACRS depreciation for Solar is crucial as it can significantly impact the financial feasibility and overall return on investment.

What is MACRS Depreciation for Solar?

MACRS depreciation is a system established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine the depreciation deduction for qualifying assets, including solar energy systems. Unlike traditional straight-line depreciation, which evenly spreads the cost of an asset over its useful life, MACRS allows for accelerated depreciation, meaning a larger portion of the asset’s cost is deducted in the earlier years of its life.

How to Calculate MACRS Depreciation

Calculating MACRS depreciation for solar involves several steps and requires knowledge of the asset’s cost, recovery period, and applicable depreciation rates. For solar systems, the following steps outline the process of calculating MACRS depreciation:

  1. Determine the Cost Basis: The cost basis of the solar energy system includes all expenses associated with its acquisition and installation, such as equipment costs, labor, and permits.
  2. Identify the Recovery Period: Solar power systems are typically classified as five-year property for tax purposes, meaning they are depreciated over a five-year period.
  3. Select the Applicable MACRS Depreciation Rates: The IRS provides tables specifying the depreciation rates for different classes of assets and recovery periods. For solar power systems with a five-year recovery period, the applicable MACRS depreciation rates are as follows: 20% in the first year, 32% in the second year, 19.2% in the third year, 11.52% in the fourth year, and 11.52% in the fifth year.
  4. Apply the Depreciation Rates: Multiply the cost basis of the solar energy system by the applicable depreciation rate for each year of the recovery period to determine the depreciation deduction for that year.
  5. Account for Half-Year Convention: The IRS imposes a half-year convention for MACRS depreciation, meaning that regardless of when the asset is placed in service during the year, it is treated as if it were placed in service halfway through the year. This affects the depreciation deduction for the first and last years of the recovery period.
  6. Calculate Depreciation Deduction: Sum up the depreciation deductions for each year of the recovery period to determine the total MACRS depreciation allowance for the solar energy system.

Commercial Depreciation of Solar PV Systems in Hawaii via MACRS

The modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS) is a depreciation method that allows the capitalized cost of your PV system (and other assets) to be recovered over a period of 5 years, via annual deductions.

Federal MACRS: (based on the year of installation)

2024: 60% Depreciation the first year and 10%, per year, the following 4 years.

2025: 40% Depreciation the first year and 15%, per year, the following 4 years.

2026: 20% per year depreciated for 5 years.

State of Hawaii MACRS: 20% per year, depreciated for 5 years.

For example, let’s say you purchased a 100,000 PV system for your commercial building in 2024.

The amount of the deduction will depend on your tax bracket. For example, let’s say you are in Hawaii’s and the Fed’s highest tax brackets of 11% and 37%. For the Fed, the first year you will deduct $18,870, and then $3,145, each year for the remaining 4 years, totaling $31,450.

In the State of Hawaii, you would be allowed to deduct $1,870, per year, for 5 years, totaling $9,350.

When you combine the MACRS depreciation method with the 35% Hawaii Solar Tax Credit and the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit, the realized cost for most businesses would be less than ZERO within 5 years. 

However, once you include the energy bill savings, your realized cost would ZERO be within 2 years. On a typical $100,000 Solar PV System size of 16.6kw, this will save the average business about $11,040, per year.  In 25 years, your realized gain would be over $500,000. Commercial Solar PV in Hawaii is what as known as a “No Brainer”, in financial technical terms.

On top of this, if your business is located on Maui, is a for-profit entity and is a small business (less than 1,500 employees and less than 40 million in annual revenue), then there is a good chance you will qualify for the 50% USDA REAP Grant.

Contact us today if you would like a solar quote and a free consultation.

Commercial Solar PV in Hawaii is strongly encouraged by these governmental incentives. You should take advantage of these incentives, while they are still available. 

Benefits of MACRS Depreciation for Solar 

Utilizing MACRS depreciation offers several benefits for businesses investing in solar power:

    1. Accelerated Tax Savings: By front-loading depreciation deductions, MACRS allows businesses to realize greater tax savings in the earlier years of the asset’s life, improving cash flow and overall return on investment.
    2. Enhanced Financial Viability: The accelerated depreciation provided by MACRS can make solar energy projects more financially viable by reducing the payback period and improving the project’s internal rate of return.
    3. Incentive for Renewable Energy Investment: The availability of MACRS depreciation incentivizes businesses to invest in renewable energy technologies such as solar power, supporting the transition to a more sustainable energy future.

MACRS depreciation offers significant tax benefits for businesses investing in solar,, allowing for accelerated recovery of the asset’s cost and improved financial viability of renewable energy projects. 

By understanding how to calculate MACRS depreciation and leveraging its benefits, businesses can maximize tax savings and enhance the return on investment from solar energy investments. Consulting with tax professionals or financial advisors familiar with MACRS rules and regulations can further optimize the tax benefits and financial outcomes of solar energy projects.

MACRS Solar Depreciation


Navigating MACRS Depreciation: Maximizing Tax Benefits for Solar Investments

MACRS depreciation for solar energy investments is a critical aspect of financial planning for renewable energy projects. Understanding the nuances of MACRS depreciation can significantly impact the cost recovery and return on investment for solar power systems.

By leveraging MACRS depreciation schedules effectively, investors can optimize their tax benefits and accelerate the depreciation of solar assets. It is essential to consider the target ranges for MACRS and solar-related terms to ensure accurate financial projections and maximize tax advantages. As the renewable energy industry continues to grow, navigating MACRS depreciation for solar investments will remain a key consideration for stakeholders in the energy sector.

Common FAQs About MACRS Depreciation for Solar Energy Systems

Can MACRS Depreciation Be Claimed for Residential Solar Installations?

MACRS depreciation is typically available for commercial solar energy systems, including those installed on residential rental properties. However, for residential solar installations on owner-occupied homes, other incentives such as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (commonly known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit or ITC) may be more applicable.

What Happens if the Solar Energy System Is Sold Before the End of the MACRS Recovery Period?

 If a solar energy system is sold before the end of its MACRS recovery period, the remaining depreciable basis can be deducted in the year of sale. However, the depreciation deduction is subject to recapture, meaning that any excess depreciation previously claimed may be taxed as ordinary income in the year of sale.

Are There Any Restrictions on MACRS Depreciation for Solar Energy Systems?

MACRS depreciation is subject to certain limitations and eligibility requirements. For example, the solar energy system must be used in a trade or business or for the production of income to qualify for MACRS depreciation. Additionally, the property must meet certain performance and certification standards to be eligible for tax incentives.

Can MACRS Depreciation Be Combined with Other Tax Incentives for Solar Energy? 

Yes, MACRS depreciation can often be combined with other tax incentives and credits for solar energy, such as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and state-level incentives. Combining these incentives can further enhance the financial benefits of investing in solar.

Is MACRS Depreciation Subject to Change?

The depreciation rules and rates under MACRS are determined by the IRS and may be subject to change over time. Businesses should stay informed about any updates or revisions to MACRS depreciation rules that may impact their tax planning and financial projections.

Understanding MACRS depreciation is essential for businesses seeking to maximize the financial benefits of investing in solar power. By leveraging accelerated depreciation deductions provided by MACRS, businesses can enhance cash flow, reduce tax liability, and improve the overall return on investment from solar energy projects. 

However, navigating the complexities of MACRS depreciation requires careful planning and compliance with IRS regulations. Businesses should consult with tax professionals or financial advisors with expertise in renewable energy tax incentives to optimize the tax benefits of solar energy investments.