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MACRS Commercial
Solar Installation



The adoption of solar energy in commercial sectors is not only driven by a commitment to sustainability but also by the financial incentives that make solar installations more economically viable. One of the most significant financial incentives available to businesses in the United States is the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). This depreciation method allows businesses to recover investments in solar energy systems through tax deductions over a specified period. Understanding how MACRS works and its benefits can help businesses make informed decisions about investing in solar energy.


\What is MACRS?

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is a method of depreciation in the U.S. tax code that allows businesses to recover the cost of tangible property through annual deductions over a fixed period. For solar energy installations, MACRS provides an accelerated depreciation schedule, enabling businesses to depreciate the value of their solar energy systems over five years. This accelerated depreciation can significantly reduce the taxable income of a business, leading to substantial tax savings.


Eligibility for MACRS

To qualify for MACRS, a solar energy system must meet the following criteria:

  • Ownership: The solar energy system must be owned by the business claiming the depreciation.

  • Use: The system must be used for business purposes and generate income.

  • Installation Date: The system must be installed and operational by the end of the tax year in which the depreciation is claimed.


How MACRS Works for Solar Installations

Under MACRS, businesses can depreciate the cost of their solar energy systems over a five-year period. Here’s a simplified breakdown of how it works:

  1. Calculate the Depreciable Basis: The depreciable basis is the total cost of the solar energy system, including equipment, labor, and installation expenses, minus any applicable tax credits (such as the Investment Tax Credit, ITC).

  2. Apply the Depreciation Schedule: Using the five-year MACRS schedule, businesses can claim a larger depreciation deduction in the early years. The depreciation percentages for each year are as follows:

    • Year 1: 20%

    • Year 2: 32%

    • Year 3: 19.2%

    • Year 4: 11.52%

    • Year 5: 11.52%

    • Year 6: 5.76%

  3. Claim the Deductions: Businesses apply these percentages to the depreciable basis each year, significantly reducing taxable income during the initial years of the solar installation's operation.


Bonus Depreciation

In addition to MACRS, businesses can take advantage of bonus depreciation, which allows for a larger upfront deduction. As of recent tax laws, businesses can depreciate 100% of the cost of solar energy systems in the first year they are placed in service. This bonus depreciation can be combined with MACRS, providing even more substantial tax benefits in the year of installation.


Financial Benefits of MACRS for Commercial Solar Installations

  1. Tax Savings: Accelerated depreciation reduces taxable income, leading to lower tax liabilities for businesses.

  2. Improved Cash Flow: The tax savings from MACRS can improve a business’s cash flow, freeing up capital for other investments or operational needs.

  3. Enhanced ROI: By reducing the effective cost of solar installations through tax savings, MACRS can significantly enhance the return on investment (ROI) for solar projects.

  4. Encouragement of Renewable Energy: Financial incentives like MACRS make renewable energy projects more attractive, encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices.


Example Scenario

Consider a business that invests $500,000 in a solar energy system. After applying the 26% ITC, the depreciable basis is $370,000. Using the MACRS schedule, the business can claim the following deductions:

  • Year 1: $74,000

  • Year 2: $118,400

  • Year 3: $71,040

  • Year 4: $42,662

  • Year 5: $42,662

  • Year 6: $21,329

These deductions can result in significant tax savings, making the initial investment more financially attractive.



MACRS provides a powerful incentive for businesses to invest in solar energy systems by offering substantial tax savings through accelerated depreciation. Understanding how to leverage MACRS can help businesses reduce their tax liabilities, improve cash flow, and achieve a higher return on investment for solar projects. As the push towards renewable energy continues, financial tools like MACRS will play a crucial role in facilitating the transition to sustainable energy sources in the commercial sector. By taking advantage of MACRS, businesses not only support environmental sustainability but also enhance their financial performance and competitiveness in the marketplace.

*This page is for informational purposes and does not constitute as any form of professional tax advice. We recommend that you consult a tax professional if you are looking for advice.

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