Solar finance considerations for tax exempt entities and government organizations
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Solar Finance: Considerations for Tax-Exempt Entities and Government Organizations. FINANCING SOLAR ENERGY IPED, INC. Alexandria, Virginia May 21-22, 2009. James F. Duffy, Esquire Nixon Peabody LLP 100 Summer Street Boston, MA 02110-2131 (617) 345-1129 jduffy@nixonpeabody.com.

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Solar finance considerations for tax exempt entities and government organizations

Solar Finance: Considerations for Tax-Exempt Entities and Government Organizations

FINANCING SOLAR ENERGY

IPED, INC.

Alexandria, Virginia

May 21-22, 2009

James F. Duffy, Esquire

Nixon Peabody LLP

100 Summer Street

Boston, MA 02110-2131

(617) 345-1129

jduffy@nixonpeabody.com


Investment tax credits
Investment Tax Credits Government Organizations

  • The principal federal incentive for the development of solar facilities remains the investment tax credit (energy tax credits under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code), known as “ITCs”

  • But tax-exempt entities and governmental organizations generally do not pay federal income taxes


Treasury grants
Treasury Grants Government Organizations

  • Section 1603(g) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) specifically provides that the Treasury grants which are available in lieu of ITCs cannot be made to tax-exempt entities, to governments or subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities thereof, or to any partnership or other pass-through entity any partner or equity holder of which is such an entity


Section 168 elections
Section 168 Elections Government Organizations

  • So, without being able to utilize ITCs or claim Treasury grants, how does a tax-exempt entity or governmental organization finance a solar facility?

  • One mechanism is to set up a subsidiary and elect under Section 168(h)(6)(F)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code to have the subsidiary treated as a for-profit entity


Section 168 elections1
Section 168 Elections Government Organizations

  • Check to see if having a for-profit subsidiary is allowed under local law for governmental organizations or under the organizational documents of a tax-exempt entity

  • Any ultimate collapse of the for-profit subsidiary into the tax-exempt entity will be a taxable event (deemed sale at fair market value with basis of zero by then), so careful tax planning is required


Crebs
CREBs Government Organizations

  • Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”) may be an option

  • Under Section 54 of the Internal Revenue Code, CREBs were designed to provide an incentive for governmental bodies (including Indian tribes) and cooperative electric companies to produce renewable energy

  • CREBs were addressed in detail on a previous panel on Thursday morning


Tax exempt use property
Tax-Exempt Use Property Government Organizations

  • Any leasing of the solar facility to a tax-exempt entity will cause the facility to be deemed “tax-exempt use property” under Section 168(h)(1) of the Code

  • Tax-exempt use property will not be eligible for the ITC

  • This does not mean that you cannot lease a rooftop from and sell solar electricity to a tax-exempt entity


Section 7701
Section 7701 Government Organizations

  • Section 7701(e)of the Code deals with the classification of a contract as either a service contract or a lease

  • In the case of a solar company leasing space from a tax-exempt entity and selling solar electricity to that entity, the preferred treatment is as a service contract, not as a lease of the facility


Section 77011
Section 7701 Government Organizations

  • Section 7701(e)(1) provides a facts and circumstances test as to whether a contract which purports to be a service contract is to be treated as a lease of property, taking into account all relevant factors, including those listed in that Section of the Code


Section 77012
Section 7701 Government Organizations

  • The facts and circumstances listed in Section 7701(e)(1) include whether or not: the service recipient has physical possession of the property or controls the property, the service recipient has a significant economic interest in the property or bears the economic risk of diminished receipts or increased expenditures if there is nonperformance under the contract, the service provider uses the property only to provide services to the service recipient, and the total contract price does not substantially exceed the rental value of the property for the contract period


Section 77013
Section 7701 Government Organizations

  • In contrast to the facts and circumstances test of Section 7701(e)(1), Sections 7701(e)(3) and (4) provides a safe harbor for certain contracts, including those with respect to the sale to the service recipient of electricity produced a solar facility

  • As long as none of the circumstances listed in Section 7704(e)(4) is present, the contract will be deemed to be a service contract


Section 77014
Section 7701 Government Organizations

  • In order to qualify under Section 7701(e)(4), the service recipient (or a related entity) cannot:

    • Operate the facility,

    • Bear any significant financial burden if there is nonperformance under the contract (other than for reasons beyond the control of the service provider),

    • Receive any significant financial benefit if the operating costs of the facility are less than the standards of performance or operation under the contract, and

    • Have an option to purchase, or be required to purchase, all or a part of the facility at a fixed and determinable price other than for fair market value

  • 12560510.1