If you installed solar panels on your home between 2015 and 2018, you may be getting a refund.
Due to a change in the method of valuation for rooftop solar panels for property tax purposes, the panels are providing users with a windfall.
The law, HB 2493 Solar Property Tax Refunds, which went into effect Aug. 27, 2019, will send an estimated total of $486,900 in refunds to Gila County property owners with solar panels installed and taxed from 2015 to 2018.
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 allow the treasurer’s office to issue refunds based on the tax roll corrections.
According to HB 2493, 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 having 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 $23.3 million. With the adoption of HB 2493, that value was reduced to $1.52 million. The tax bills amounted to a total of $521,100, the new method of valuation dropped the total to $34,200. The change means the county must refund an estimated $486,900.
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.