IRS releases final rules for clean energy tax credit direct pay and transferability

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The IRS has issued its final guidance on the elective pay rules for clean energy tax credits created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The guidance removes any temporary regulations and enacts the final rules, which can be found following this link. The IRS provided updated elective payment frequently asked questions based on the final regulations. The FAQ section includes a step-by-step guide on how to become eligible for direct pay or credit transfers, and how to file these transactions.

Elective pay, sometimes referred to as direct pay, makes certain clean energy tax credits and the CHIPs manufacturing credit effectively refundable as direct payments. The entity can receive the full value of the credit because the IRS treats the elective payment amount as a tax payment. IRS then counts it as overpayment on the return and refunds it to the entity.

Eligible entities for direct pay include tax-exempt organizations, state and local governments, Indian tribal governments, Alaska Native Corporations, the Tennessee Valley Authority and rural electric cooperatives. Find a brief overview of elective pay rules here.

Transferability allows entities that can’t use elective pay but do qualify for an eligible tax credit to transfer all or a portion of the credit to a third-party buyer in exchange for cash. The buyer and seller would negotiate and agree to the terms and pricing.

Solar and energy storage accounted for about one-third of transferable tax credits sold in 2023, according to Crux, a tax credit transfer marketplace platform. Several large projects have already secured tax credit transfer deals.

(Read: “Solar tax credit transfer market gains momentum”)

The clean energy tax credit transfer market reached an estimated $7 billion to $9 billion in 2023, and this market is expected to triple in 2024. Clean energy already represents about one third of the total tax finance market in the United States. Crux expects the potential for over $80 billion in solar tax finance by 2031, with a significant portion of the growth expected to stem from transferable tax credits.

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