Tax changes aim to increase feasibility of renewable energy projects

Publication August 30, 2016

In efforts to reduce the capital-intensity and increase the economic viability of renewable energy projects, the proposed section 12U of the Income Tax Act (contained in the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill) will allow a tax deduction for expenditure incurred for the construction of roads or the erection of fences for renewable energy projects. The provision specifically targets capital expenditure indirectly supporting large scale renewable energy projects generating electricity exceeding 5MW.

The deductions will be in addition to those currently allowed. Persons carrying on the trade of generating electricity exceeding 5MW from wind power, solar energy, hydropower to produce electricity of not more than 30MW or biomass comprising organic wastes, landfill gas or plant material may deduct amounts incurred for:

  • the construction of any road or erection of any fence for the purpose of their trade;
  • the improvement (other than repair), to the road or fence constructed by them;
  • the improvement (other than repair), to the foundation or supporting structure designed for such a fence.

To qualify, a foundation or supporting structure must:

  • be constructed in such a manner that it is regarded as being integrated with that fence; and
  • have a useful life limited to the useful life of the fence.

A person will not be allowed to set-off expenditure exceeding their income derived from the renewable energy project against any income which they derive otherwise than from the carrying on of that trade.

The deduction from income allowed for any year of assessment must be limited to the taxable income derived from the carrying on of the trade during that year, but any expenditure denied in a year may be carried forward.

Expenses prior to the commencement of a project will be deductible if the expense would ordinarily have qualified for a deduction under the section, and it was not allowed as a deduction in any previous year of assessment.

If the draft is enacted, section 12U will be deemed to have come into operation on 1 April 2016 and will apply for years of assessment commencing on or after that date.

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