The New Orleans Times-Picayune decided to poke around for reactions to the effects of the 2015 change in the credit. Once the nation’s most generous, until the middle of last year it essentially gave back 50 percent of an installed system. Better, the credits were made refundable, so to pay for much of the system many buyers would take out a loan from the installers interest free for a period as long as reasonably expected to have the refund show up after filing income taxes – in addition to the 30 percent federal tax credit. And if the buyer still could not manage the several thousand dollars still owed, installers would lease it or price it for sale in a way to eat the difference, with the lucrative government giveaways still allowing them to profit.
But Act 31 of 2015 changed the game, capping the previously-unlimited program that had given away hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at $10 million distributed in each of fiscal years 2016 and 2017, and $5 million for the first half of FY 2018, then ending the subsidy permanently. This created a class of buyers who paid for systems in the first half of 2015 – FY 2015 – but only could file for the credit on their 2015 state income taxes starting the second half of FY 2016. Filings so far this calendar year, for systems installed in 2015, not only blew straight through the FY 2016 amount, but also the FY 2017 amount and all but $1 million of the truncated FY 2018 amount.