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Solar industry opposes tax on leased panels

Solar industry officials who spoke with lawmakers this week said they hope to stave off a property tax for leased panels in Arizona.

Supporters of the solar-rooftop leasing industry canceled a protest at the state Capitol on Wednesday after discussions with lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer, The Arizona Republic reported.

“There has been a lot of dialogue with the governor’s office and legislative leaders, and as a result of that, everyone acknowledges the problem and has committed to good-faith efforts to resolve the problem,” said Jason Rose, a spokesman for a coalition of tax opponents tied to the solar industry.

According to Arizona law, solar panels that generate power on site aren’t included in property-value assessments for property-tax purposes.

But the Arizona Revenue Department ruled last year that leased panels should be subject to taxation because they aren’t owned by the property owner. The department announced it would implement the ruling this fall.

Sean Laux, a department spokesman, said leased solar panels are like merchant power plants. So they should be valued and taxed, Laux said.

According to Laux, a $30,000 solar panel array leased by a homeowner would generate $140 in property taxes in its first year, but that amount would decrease every year as the system depreciates. The system owner, not the homeowner, would have to pay the tax.

State Sen. John McCormish, R-Phoenix, is backing a bill that would clarify that panels are not vulnerable to property tax no matter who owns them.

The bill has yet to move forward in the Legislature, however.

Rose said Arizona would be the only state to impose property taxes on leased rooftop panels. “It affects existing solar users, not just future users,” he said.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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