Window Tax Credits Get Stimulus Boost

February 18, 2009

The $789 billion compromise stimulus bill negotiated by House and Senate leaders could boost window and door sales. Passed by both Houses of Congress and signed yesterday by President Obama, the package substantially increases the value of tax credits provided for energy efficient home improvements, including windows and doors.

According to a statement released by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the compromise package retains $20 billion worth of spending targeted at energy efficiency and renewable energy that was part of both the Senate and House bills. Specifically, the statement notes, the final bill includes provisions to promote "energy-efficient investments in homes by extending and expanding tax credits through 2010 for purchases such as new furnaces, energy-efficient windows and doors, or insulation."

Both the House and Senate bills had included language that would provide homeowners with a credit of 30 percent of the cost of qualifying energy efficient upgrades up to a maximum $1,500 for a household for 2009 and 2010. To qualify for the credit, the products must meet some strict energy efficiency requirements: Windows, doors and skylights will need to have a u-factor at 0.30 or below and SHGC at 0.30 or below to earn the 30 percent.

The current tax incentives, enacted as part of last fall's Wall Street bail-out, capped the credit at $200 for Energy Star qualified windows and skylights and and up to $500 for exterior doors. Those credits covered 2009 only.

The stimulus bill also includes an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. The National Association of Home Builders had promoted a $15,000 tax credit for all homebuyers, and that provision had made it through the Senate version of the bill, but was taken out of the compromise version.

The new credit is $500 more than the existing $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit created last year.  It is also different in that it truly is a tax credit that does not have to be paid back. 

Coming in at $789 billion, the package includes many other provisions that could help boost window and door sales, including money for public works and housing projects and weatherization programs for low-cost housing.