Solar Tax Credit Transferability Rules Explained


by Eric Lam - Published 12/12/2023


Navigating the complexities of solar tax credits can be a challenging endeavor for both individuals and commercial entities. The latest update in the IRS code, particularly Section 48, brings significant changes, especially regarding the transferability of these credits.

This post dives into these nuances, providing a comprehensive understanding of what these changes mean for solar system owners and potential buyers.

Here are the rules that were added...

1. Transferability of Solar Tax Credits:

The most notable change under Section 48 is the transferability of solar tax credits.

This feature is now available to any individual who purchases a solar system but cannot utilize the tax credit themselves.

This transferability option is primarily targeted at commercial systems, which include additional benefits for economic communities, energy communities, low-income communities, and domestic content.

In contrast, residential systems do not offer these 'adders.'

2. Registration and Tracking:

For the transfer of tax credits to be valid, the IRS mandates the registration of the solar system.

Upon registration, the system is assigned a unique number, linking it to the owner. This is a critical step as the transferability of the tax credits is closely tied to each tax filing involving the owner, buyer, or seller of the credits.

3. Portfolio Management:

In cases where an entity holds a portfolio of solar systems, it's essential to register each system individually.

The tax credit associated with each system is then meticulously tracked, ensuring precise accountability and transferability.

4. Conditions and Limitations:

The transfer of these tax credits is generally executed through a cash transaction.

However, it's crucial to note that the tax credit can only be transferred once and cannot be transferred to a relative or a business with similar or common ownership.

These conditions and limitations are designed to maintain the integrity of the tax credit system and prevent potential abuses.

5. Recapture Risks:

An important aspect to consider is the recapture of the tax credit.

This happens when the original owner no longer satisfies the holding period requirements. Interestingly, while the transferor triggers the recapture event, the transferee becomes liable for any consequences resulting from this event.

6. New Components Under the IRA Bill:

The presentation highlights that these transferability rules, especially the one-time transfer limitation and the restrictions on transferring to relatives or similar businesses, are new components introduced by the Investment Tax Credit due to the IRA bill.

This bill also encompasses other significant components like domestic content, energy communities, and low-income communities, further detailed in the description below.


The transferability of solar tax credits under Section 48 of the IRS code marks a significant shift, particularly for commercial solar system owners. While it opens up new avenues for credit utilization, it also imposes specific responsibilities and limitations. Understanding these rules is crucial for anyone involved in the solar energy sector, whether as a system owner, a potential buyer, or an investor.


  1. Q: What is the transferability of solar tax credits under IRS Section 48? A: Under IRS Section 48, solar tax credits can now be transferred from the original owner to another individual or entity, primarily applicable to commercial solar systems.
  2. Q: Who can transfer solar tax credits? A: Any individual or commercial entity that owns a solar system but cannot utilize the tax credit themselves can transfer it to another party, following IRS guidelines.
  3. Q: Are there any restrictions on transferring solar tax credits? A: Yes, the tax credit can only be transferred once, cannot be sold to relatives, or businesses with similar ownership, and requires registration with the IRS.
  4. Q: What happens in the case of a recapture event? A: If a recapture event occurs, where the original owner doesn't meet the holding period, the transferee becomes liable for any related consequences.
  5. Q: How do the new IRA bill components affect solar tax credits? A: The IRA bill introduces new elements like restrictions on credit transfer and additional benefits for specific communities, impacting how solar tax credits are managed.