Section 179D Energy Efficiency Deduction Made Permanent

December 1, 2020 | Article

By Joe Sawatske

A recently enacted spending package made permanent the Section 179D deduction (179D) that was scheduled to expire at the end of 2020.

What Is Section 179D?
179D is a section of the tax code that provides a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for energy efficient commercial building property (EECBP). EECBP qualified for the deduction includes interior lighting, the building envelope and mechanical systems.

The deduction is available to those who have built and renovated their property since 2006, as well as those who have designed/built government-owned buildings such as architects, engineers and contractors, in an open tax year.

How much is the deduction worth?
The maximum 179D deduction is $1.80 per square foot of qualifying property. As an example, a 100,000 square foot building may qualify for up to a $180,000 deduction under 179D.

Government-Owned Buildings

Who Can Take Advantage of the Deduction?
The “designer” of government-owned EECBP is eligible for the deduction. A designer creates the technical specifications for installation of EECBP and could include architects, engineers, general contractors and subcontractors. However, a person that merely installs, repairs, or maintains the property is not a designer. Note: projects may have more than one qualifying designer. It is advantageous to pursue this deduction as early in the process as possible. If you were the designer of the EECBP of a government-owned facility placed in service in an open tax year (typically the last three), you could benefit from the 179D deduction.

A Recent Example
We worked with an architectural firm who designed the EECBP for several government-owned buildings to obtain the 179D deduction, spanning the prior three tax years. A total of 799,000 square feet were analyzed, netting them a $872,400 deduction.

Privately Owned Buildings

Who Can Take Advantage of the 179D Deduction?
Privately owned properties placed in service as of January 1, 2006, could benefit from the 179D deduction. The deduction is available for building owners as well as tenants who pay for and are depreciating the energy efficient improvements.

A Recent Example
We worked with a manufacturing company to obtain the 179D deduction. The manufacturing facility underwent an 183,000 square foot expansion, which included installation of both energy efficient HVAC and lighting. By gathering the necessary information and completing the certification, the client received over $325,000 in deductions on their current year tax return.

How is the deduction obtained?
To claim the 179D deduction, energy savings must be certified by an unrelated “qualified individual” who is a contractor or professional engineer licensed in the same jurisdiction as the building. A site visit of the property is required, as well as energy modeling using software approved by the Department of Energy.

Eide Bailly’s in-house Energy Incentives team includes Professional Engineers and energy modelers who are able to generate and certify these deductions.

Get the tax savings you deserve with the 179D deduction.

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