Tax Rebates for Going Green

Tue, Mar 17, 2009

b. Save Money

Looking to get a little refund from the government this tax season? This year, you can get some back while giving something back.

Small business owners who stop thinking about being in the red and go green can save their company money, benefit from governmental tax credits, and promote a sustainable planet.

Why Tax Credits are More Valuable than Deductibles

There are a number of green tax credits available to small businesses as incentives for them to adopt initiatives that help reduce a growing company’s environmental impact. Credits are even more valuable to taxpayers than deductibles because they reduce taxes owed dollar-for-dollar, while deductibles only adjust the percentage of what is owed overall, according to the US Department of energy website, www.energy.gov.

So how can you get in on a piece of this action?

Hybrid Cars Are a Great Place to Start

Start with the company car you’re about to purchase. Many people are discouraged by the higher initial cost of buying a hybrid car, but they don’t have to be. Businesses who purchase or lease a hybrid vehicle, which is a vehicle that combines two types of energy to run (typically gasoline and electricity) are eligible for a tax credit.

Hybrid vehicles will save you money in the long run as well, because they use less fuel, which means fewer trips to the pump according to the article “How Hybrid Cars Work,” on www.howstuffworks.com.

Credits for the vehicle depend on the fuel economy, the weight of the vehicle, and whether the credit has been phased out for that manufacturer, which is due to happen in 2010. There is also a tax credit for alternative fuel, diesel and fuel-cell vehicles, according to www.energy.gov. The credit may be anywhere from $250-$3,400.

Other Simple Actions to Take Today to Get Tax Credits

If you have plans to renovate your office, installing energy efficient windows, air conditioners, doors and central heating will each net you a $500 tax credit.

There are also several deductions available for commercial buildings. You can get a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for the owners or designers of new or existing commercial buildings that can use at least 50% less heating and cooling energy than the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) guidelines for standard building usage. These deductions will remain available until 2013, according to energystar.gov.

The energy saving or energy efficient systems can be installed as part of the lighting, the heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water system, or as part of the building envelope, which is the outer shell of the building.

And these are just the federal programs in place. Every state has its own corporate programs, incentives and deductions, which are easily accessible from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) at www.dsireusa.org.

Before you file your taxes this spring, make sure you think green and to save green!

By Lesley Almeida

Lesley Almeida is a Journalism major from Fairfield University, currently working at an indie record label while trying to convey her passion for sustainability through freelance writing. Lesley can be reached at lesley.almeida@gmail.com.

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