The government often seeks to encourage certain behaviors for the greater good of the people. For example, local and national governments have determined at one time or another that our energy use would decrease if more people had energy efficient appliances. That has, at times, meant tax breaks for people who bought a refrigerator that met a certain energy standard. You could be left out in the cold on this break unless you got a freezer within a certain time frame.
Tax Credit Basics
The federal government offered a tax credit for refrigerators through the end of 2011. The size of the credit was based on the energy savings relative to the energy conservation standards. Accordingly, taxpayers could claim a $150 tax credit for a refrigerator that consumed at least 30 percent less energy than prior government standards. A $200 tax credit was available for refrigerators that consumed at least 35 percent less energy.
The IRS defined refrigerators for the purpose of this tax credit as “a residential model automatic defrost refrigerator-freezer that has an internal volume of at least 16.5 cubic feet.” The refrigerator had to have been produced during the 2011 calendar year.
All states participated in the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program until February 17, 2012. This program gave rebates to taxpayers who purchased energy efficient home appliances, including eligible refrigerators. Besides this program, there are some temporary state initiatives, such as sales tax exemptions, state tax credits or rebates on these types of products. The United States Department of Energy publishes a list of these state incentives for taxpayers to review by state on its website, dsireusa.org.
Amending Your Taxes
If you purchased an eligible refrigerator prior to December 31, 2011, you may amend your earlier tax return to obtain the credit. Your amended return must be filed within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or, if you paid tax, you have two years from that date, if it is later.
Kay Lee began freelance writing for Answerbag and eHow in 2010. She is an attorney in Washington, DC, practicing since 2006. Lee specializes in employee benefits and executive compensation. She holds a Juris Doctor from the Columbus School of Law and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.