Solar Tax Break Under Attack (by a ‘very political comptroller’)

The state comptroller’s office says a current tax arrangement on solar energy is unconstitutional, upping the pressure on legislators to cast the policy aside as a fight over its purpose escalates, reports the Nashville Business Journal.
A bill in the Tennessee General Assembly would change the tax treatment of solar companies, and various segments of the industry have spoken up, decrying it as a massive tax increase in place of an incentive they’d been anticipating.
Jason Mumpower, executive assistant to state Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson, today cited a 1986 attorney general opinion, saying that a justification used for the treatment of solar installations is not constitutional.
He argued the current statute — passed in 2010 under the administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat — is open to challenge, and that therefore the comptroller is making tax law sound and preserving some incentive for solar companies.
“What we’re looking to do is correct a technical matter in the tax code,” Mumpower said. “What we’re doing is trying to help them.”
….Both McNally and Mumpower stopped short of accusing the Bredesen administration of passing a law to benefit a future business venture. But they said there could be the appearance of a conflict, with Farr pushing the law and then being part of the future company.
Farr called it “politics by a very political comptroller” for Republicans to be pushing the law change and making such suggestions. He said Silicon Ranch does not plan to apply for the tax benefit or other Bredesen initiatives. The company may consider future programs passed or reapproved by the legislature, based on circumstances at that time, he said.
Mumpower said the comptroller’s office is not seeking political gain against Farr or Democrats supportive of solar. Asked why the comptroller’s office doesn’t denounce suggestions about Farr, Mumpower said the comptroller’s motivation is only to fix the law, not engage in politics.

3 thoughts on “Solar Tax Break Under Attack (by a ‘very political comptroller’)

  1. Eric Holcombe

    Let’s just use language that the Silicon Ranch hands did when they started taxing the propane for your BBQ grill, or raising the tax on cigarettes 216%: we’re just “closing a tax loophole” that solar companies unfairly benefit from.

  2. WhitesCreek

    Why is it called “closing a loophole” when Republicans raise taxes on things that save our environment? Just try and end the coal subsidy (ridiculously low fees on coal extraction in TN) and see how they react. It’s pretty easy to see who they are in the pocket of, those industries that want to destroy our state for money.

  3. Eric Holcombe

    Ridiculously low fees are a subsidy? Do you imply their money belongs to the government and it is a subsidy that the government doesn’t take more of it? Are we receiving a subsidy when the state “only” imposes a 7% tax on a purchase?
    The solar industry has had incredible federal subsidies, 30% tax credits for any purchases and installations. That Haywood Co. solar array has a 47-year payback, with no maintenance or replacement costs accounted for (or the eternal state employee pensions and benefits). That’s if you don’t count the subsidy of paying twice the retail rate for their generated electricity. Then it’s only about 30 years. What a great deal.
    And Silicon Phil was pushing the coal-powered cars to boot. How much coal do we have to extract when all the cars are Nissan Leafs? Who will pay the $12,500 federal subsidies on every one of those, plus all those taxpayer funded charging stations with “free” electricity?

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