The Aug. 25, 2020 article in the Roundup about solar panel users getting a property tax refund was incorrect. Government entities that installed solar panels between 2015 and 2018 will not receive refunds; instead, local taxing jurisdictions that collected property taxes from the solar companies must refund most of those property taxes back to the solar companies.

The law, HB2493 Solar Property Tax Refunds, which went into effect Aug. 27, 2019, requires an estimated total of $486,953 in refunds to solar equipment suppliers who leased the systems.

Joseph Williams, Gila County assessor, brought the information to the board of supervisors Aug. 17 and asked it to allow the assessor’s office to issue tax roll corrections on the solar property accounts for tax years 2015 through 2018; and authorize the treasurer’s office to issue refunds based on the tax roll corrections.

According to HB2493, solar energy devices, defined as grid-tied photovoltaic systems and any other device or system designed for the production of solar energy primarily for on-site consumption, whether leased or owned, are considered to have no value when characterized as personal property and add no value to the real property on which such a device or system is installed.

Williams said, “The new method drastically reduces the value from previous valuation methods, which also reduces the amount of taxes to be paid by solar property owners. The new method is retroactive to the tax year 2015.”

He added the law results in the refunds of 90%-95% of property taxes paid by solar property owners in the past five years.

According to documents Williams provided the BOS, from 2015 through 2018, the solar full cash values in the county totaled $23,307,420. With the adoption of HB2493, that value was reduced to $1,528,696. The tax bills amounted to a total of $521,134.03, the new method of valuation dropped the total to $34,180.34. The change means the refunds total an estimated $486,953.69.

Williams said this is going to hit the government entities hard. “Many of them operate on a shoestring.”

The supervisors approved Williams’ request. County manager James Menlove instructed Williams to get with the county finance department to notify all those taxpayers of the change.

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