Quantcast

2 Solar Installers Sue State of Arizona For Imposing Industry-Crippling Property Tax

Business

Two solar panel installers filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) this week charging that the state is illegally imposing a property tax on residents who lease solar energy systems.

In April 2013, ADOR reviewed a 2009 law exempting property owners from an additional solar property tax so long as they own the panels on their home or business. Panel lessees shouldn't be granted the same tax break, ADOR ruled. Now, SolarCity and Sunrun believe the department's review of the law is not only illegal but crippling to the industry's growth in Arizona.

“This would absolutely be the end for solar in Arizona,” Bryan Miller, Sunrun’s vice president of public policy and power markets, told the Phoenix Business Journal. “It would burden those solar owners with a large tax increase that they were promised would never happen by top policy makers.”

Two solar panel installers are fighting an Arizona tax homeowners who lease their panels. Photo credit: mjmonty/Flickr Creative Commons

On average, the tax is estimated to cost $150 for homeowners who lease their panels. That tax would also apply to business owners, schools and nonprofits who signed lease agreements for solar panels.

According to AZCentral, the two companies face millions in taxes, though their lease agreements would pass that responsibility on to homeowners. Still, the lawsuit uses the law's own words against ADOR.

“[The Arizona legislature] has made it clear that the subject property, when used ‘primarily for on-site consumption’ of the electricity generated by such property, is ‘considered to have no value and to add no value’ to the property on which it is installed, and thus it should not be separately assessed for property tax purposes,” according to the suit.

However, ADOR's interpretation of the law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer likens a rooftop solar system to a solar plant that is taxable.

“I think what’s important to Arizona law is even if somehow the court would find any ambiguity, even though there isn’t, there’s a long-standing principle that ambiguity has to be construed in favor of the rate payer, meaning no taxes,” Miller said. “It’s a great well-founded principle of Arizona law, known as an anti-tax state.”

According to the business journal, Foster City, CA-based SolarCity is Arizona's top solar company, installing 43,000 kilowatts worth of solar energy in 2013. It's also known as the nation's top installer with plans for the world's largest panel production plant.

 

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Starbucks barista prepares a drink at a Starbucks Coffee Shop location in New York. Ramin Talaie / Corbis via Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?

Read More
Radiation warning sign at the Union Carbide uranium mill in Rifle, Colorado, in 1972. Credit: National Archives / Environmental Protection Agency, public domain

By Sharon Kelly

Back in April last year, the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency decided it was "not necessary" to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation's 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency's own research has warned it may pose risks to the country's drinking water supplies.

Read More
Sponsored
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and then he told her to get a degree in economics before giving world leaders advice, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of forest fire smoke hovering over North America on Aug. 15, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory

New York City isn't known for having the cleanest air, but researchers traced recent air pollution spikes there to two surprising sources — fires hundreds of miles away in Canada and the southeastern U.S.

Read More
If temperatures continue to rise, the world is at risk from global sea-level rise, which will flood many coastal cities as seen above in Bangladesh. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world's central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Read More