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Corporation Commission Candidates Debate Solar Tax

Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

Republicans running for the two open seats on the state Corporation Commission are divided on the issue of the taxability of solar panels on homes. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

There is no property tax on panels owned outright by homeowners who generate their own electricity. But, with costs into the tens of thousands of dollars, leasing them has become more popular. However, the Department of Revenue has concluded leased panels are subject to property taxes — taxes passed on to the homeowners who have leased them. In a debate Wednesday night, Vernon Parker said it’s not right for a state agency to make that decision — a decision he said was affected by utilities who see the panels as competition.

“This should have gone through the Legislature. It should have been signed by the governor. But we have outside forces or big special interests coming, levying this tax,” Parker said.

And, Lucy Mason called the levy unfair. But, Doug Little said the Department of Revenue was simply following the law.

“First of all, I don’t like any new taxes at all. But, recognize that businesses pay these kinds of taxes on property that they own and lease. So it’s not new,” Little said.

Tom Forese said his concern is that the Department of Revenue’s interpretation comes as a surprise to those who already have signed long-term leases.