October 10, 2018
Additional changes to income tax returns for trusts
November 16, 2018

Deduction for photovoltaic solar energy plants

Section 12B(1) and (2) of the Income Tax Act[1] provides for a 50/30/20 income tax deduction in respect of certain machinery or plant owned by the taxpayer and which was or is brought into use for the first time by that taxpayer, for the purpose of his or her trade to be used by that taxpayer in the generation of electricity from, amongst others, photovoltaic solar energy (both for energy of more than 1 megawatt and energy not exceeding 1 megawatt) or concentrated solar energy. The tax deduction also applies to any improvements to the qualifying plant or machinery which is not repairs.

In cases of plant and machinery used in the generation of electricity from photovoltaic solar energy in respect of energy less than 1 megawatt, the taxpayer may write off 100% of the costs of such plant or machinery in the year brought into use.[2]

The cost of any asset for purposes of section 12B also includes the direct cost of installation or the erection thereof.[3]

In a recent binding private ruling (BPR 311) the applicant proposed to install solar power systems at each of the sites it rented to reduce electricity costs. As each system will only be supplemented and not replace the electricity provided by the main grid, it was proposed to generate less than 1 megawatt of electricity.

The taxpayer will purchase the photovoltaic solar panels, appoint and pay independent contracts to perform the installation planning, procure and purchase all other relevant equipment and install the systems at the relevant sites. These systems at each site comprised of the panels, AC inverters, DC combiner boxes, racking, cables and wiring.

In terms of the ruling, the taxpayer was entitled to claim the costs in respect of all the components of each system in terms of sections 12B(1) and (2). As each system will generate less than 1 megawatt of electricity, 100% of these costs were deductible in the year brought into use. No deduction was, however, claimed in respect of the costs of distribution boxes as it did not form part of the photovoltaic solar energy system.

It was furthermore proposed that the taxpayer would incur certain related expenditure as part of the cost of the installation, including the installation planning costs, panel delivery costs and installation safety officer costs. SARS, in this regard, ruled that these costs all formed part of the direct costs of installation and erection of the systems and were therefore deductible in terms of section 12B(3).

Taxpayers installing solar energy systems should therefore carefully consider the tax deductions in terms of section 12B to ensure that all relevant costs are claimed for income tax purposes.

[1] No. 58 of 1962

[2] See section 12B(2)(b)

[3] Section 12B(3)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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