IRS, Treasury Publish §30C Guidance for EV Charging Infrastructure and Other Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property
Latest §30C ITC guidance makes tax credit widely available across the U.S. but fails to clarify eligible equipment
On January 19, the IRS released key guidance for the §30C alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. The guidance included two appendices that identify eligible census tracts depending on a project's placed-in-service date. Alongside the guidance, the IRS issued a press release and an FAQ.
- The Inflation Reduction Act extended and meaningfully modified the §30C ITC
- 99% of U.S. territory is included in eligible census tracts
- Eligible locations will vary depending on when a project is placed in service
- DOE published a mapping tool that shows eligible areas with placed-in-service filter
- Ambiguity around definition of "single item" with respect to credit qualification remains a gating factor
- Further guidance is coming
The Inflation Reduction Act extended and meaningfully modified the §30C ITC
The §30C ITC existed prior to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the guidance reminds us of the ways in which the IRA modified the credit.
Added prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements
The §30C is subject to the IRA's prevailing wage and apprenticeship (PWA) requirements. If a developer meets PWA requirements, the §30C credit value increases from 6% to 30% of eligible costs. Considering the economics, virtually all developers will meet PWA requirements.
Increased credit maximum
The IRA increased the maximum credit value that an eligible property can receive. For businesses, the cap is $100,000 per "item of property."
Modified eligibility scope
The IRA modified the scope of the §30C ITC "so that it no longer applies per location and instead applies per single item." Notably, although the guidance provides several definitions, it does not define what constitutes a "single item." We'll comment on this below.
Narrowed applicability to non-urban areas, low-income communities, and, with this guidance, U.S. territories
The IRA requires a §30C-eligible property to be placed in service in an eligible census tract – that is, any population census tract that is a low-income community, a non-urban area, or a U.S. territory.
99% of U.S. territory is included in eligible census tracts
According to the guidance, three broad areas are eligible for the credit:
- Non-urban areas: For purposes of the §30C credit, the IRS defines a non-urban area as "any population census tract in which at least 10 percent of the census blocks are not designated as urban areas.” Many market participants have been referring to non-urban areas as "rural areas."
- Low-Income communities: The IRA defined a qualifying census tract as one described in Section 45D(e), which defines a low-income community for purposes of the new markets tax credit (NMTC). The guidance, however, notes that NMTC data was recently updated and provides a transition rule under which developers can rely on designations using the older or more recent data.
- U.S. territories: The guidance allows refueling properties located in U.S. territories to qualify for the credit. However, the property must be owned by a U.S. citizen, U.S. corporation, or a U.S. territory corporation. (Inhabited U.S. territories are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)
According to the Electrification Coalition, an industry group, the areas in which eligible property can be installed "will include approximately 99% of U.S. land territory and 62% of the population."
This is particularly good news for expanding electric vehicle adoption because, without the §30C tax credit, installing EV charging infrastructure can be prohibitively expensive in rural areas where there are fewer vehicles in the first place.
Eligibility of a census tract depends on when a project is placed in service
The guidance also provided two appendices that list qualified census tracts depending on when a project is placed in service (PIS):
- PIS after 12/31/22 and before 1/1/25: Appendix A or Appendix B
- PIS after 12/31/24 and before 1/1/30: Appendix B
DOE published a mapping tool to streamline siting analyses
To help developers select the appropriate census tract for their project's placed-in-service date, Argonne accompanied the map with a decision tree.
The mapping tool, however, is for informational purposes only and "may not be relied upon by taxpayers to substantiate a tax return position and will not be used by the IRS for examination purposes."
Ambiguity around definition of "single item" with respect to credit qualification remains a gating factor
The guidance did not fully clarify what equipment constitutes a "single item" with respect to credit qualification. As Canary Media notes, electric vehicle "charging sites also have a lot of 'shared equipment' such as power conduits, switchgear, transformers and enclosures," and there are "still questions of whether [the credit] will cover just the charger, or additional factors to installation like upgrading power infrastructure."
The definitional ambiguity presents financial challenges for developers who want to transfer their tax credits because they don't yet know what their credits will be worth.
Proposed regulations still to come from the IRS and Treasury
Fortunately, the guidance states that further guidance is forthcoming. Reunion believes this additional guidance will likely address the definition of a "single item," given the gating nature of its ambiguity.