Real Estate Tax Expert Chris Bird

“Homeowners can get bigger tax credits for making energy-efficiency improvements or installing alternative energy equipment,” said real estate tax expert Chris Bird at his popular tax session for Illinois REALTORS® at the IAR Convention in mid-September. Bird, a former agent for the Internal Revenue Service and certified financial planner, urged REALTORS® to share the site with their clients so they can take advantage of the energy and tax savings.

To qualify for the tax credits,  home improvements such as insulation and energy-efficient windows and doors, certain roofing and heating/cooling systems must be “placed in service” from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 in the taxpayer’s principal residence (existing homes only). The tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500.

For new construction (and existing homes), tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 for geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells.

Complete guidelines for “Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency” (updated September 14, 2009) are available at The site will give tax credit specifications and notes for what qualifies.

Bird recommends for record-keeping to save your receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement. He says improvements made in 2009 can be claimed on your 2009 taxes, filed by April 15, 2010. Use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version).