Can I claim the federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit for Homeowners if I receive a tax refund for the year? -Jerry

Hi Jerry,

You may still be able to qualify for the federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, even if you receive a refund, as long as you don’t receive a total refund of all the federal income taxes you owed for the year. However, if you had no tax liability for the year, and you got everything you put in back, you would not be eligible for the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit. In other words, you can only claim the credit if you paid something toward it in federal income taxes for the year.

To see if you can benefit from the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, subtract all of your deductions from the total amount of federal income tax you owe. If you come up with a positive number, meaning you paid federal taxes for the year, then you may be able to benefit from the tax credit.

That’s a little different from whether you received a refund or not. If you overpaid your taxes for the year, you would receive a refund, but you still could have paid more in than you got back, making you eligible for the tax credit.

For example, if you paid $10,000 in federal income taxes during the year, but ended up only owing $1,000 in taxes, you would receive a refund for $9,000 but still would have paid the federal government $1,000, so you would be eligible for an Energy Efficiency Tax Credit of up to $1,000 even though you got a refund.

On the other hand, if you paid in $10,000 in federal income taxes during the year, but after taking all your deductions (excluding the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit), you received a full refund of $10,000, then you wouldn’t be eligible for the tax credit.


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Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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