Volume 48, Issue 5 - September/October 2009

Education is the Key
More Communication is Needed on Tax Credits
by Samantha Carpenter, editor of Shelter magazine

Erick Anderson says that his remodeling company, Anderson-Moore Builders in Winston Salem, N.C., is getting a lot calls from people interested in replacing their doors and windows with products that qualify for The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. This act was signed into effect by President Obama on February 17 and provides a consumer tax credit up to $1,500 for 30 percent of the cost of qualified remodeling projects that improve the energy efficiency of an existing home—including replacement doors and windows.

While there is more interest, Anderson says there is also a problem. He says his door and window suppliers did not explain if and how their products qualify for work with the tax credit, and he, in turn, is having a hard time explaining to consumers how the credit works, how they get it, how much it will be and more.

Tony Bosco, owner of AFB Fenestration Sales and Marketing, a distributor in Freeland, Mich., also says his door and window suppliers haven’t explained the tax credit to him either. “I explain the tax credit to them,” he says, adding that it would have been helpful if his suppliers would have put the tax credit in easy-to-read terms.

“Almost every consumer calls to see if my windows meet the .30/.30 energy tax credit. My bidding the job depends on my ability to supply windows and doors that meet the specifications,” Bosco says.

John Allen, president of Southern Construction & Design in Madison, Ala., says the lumber company that supplies him with windows is having trouble understanding how the credit operates and how to execute.

 


"Every situation is different. You cannot say that every option of the credits is something that applies to each existing homeowner.
All cases are different whether they will or will not apply, or even if the options available make sense or not to employ into the project,
such as solar and geothermal. These are not going to be too typical upgrades that people take advantage of for the credits."
–Joe Allen,
Southern Construction & Design


He agrees with Bosco that it is challenging to explain the tax credit to customers.

“Every situation is different. You cannot say that every option of the credits is something that applies to each existing homeowner,” Allen says. “All cases are different whether they will or will not apply, or even if the options available make sense or not to employ into the project, such as solar and geothermal. These are not going to be too typical upgrades that people take advantage of for the credits.”

Bosco says the credit is challenging because not all products meet the .30/.30 requirements. “The [products] can be mixed and still receive the maximum rebate. Projects can also be completed in 2009/2010 for a total of $1,500 over the two-year period for the principle residence only,” he explains.

 


"Almost every consumer calls to see if my windows meet the .30/.30 energy tax credit. My bidding the job depends on my
ability to supply windows and doors that meet the specifications."
–Tony Bosco,
AFB Fenestration Sales and Marketing



To make the tax credit less confusing for his customers, Bosco says he is “putting it in writing and sending out information supplied by his window manufacturers.”

Steve Osborne, president of Building Specialties Store in Durango, Colo., says his distributorship has seen an approximately 50-percent increase in business due to the tax credits. While there’s been an increase, Osborne says, “There is a cost increase for triple pane that we need at our altitude that offsets the $1,500 benefit.”

Remodelers, distributors and dealers are doing numerous things to overcome the challenge in communicating the tax credit to customers.

Osborne says that his company is publicizing the tax credit with a banner in front of his location, and he is educating himself, his employees and their customers.

Kent Hintermeister, owner of Master Lumber in Alexandria, Minn., says he is listening more closely and trying harder to guide people [as far as the tax credits]. His company is publicizing the credit in local radio ads.

Joel Hirschberg of Green Building Supply in Fairfield, Iowa, has added the products that qualify for the tax credit on the company’s website.

Whether you are a remodeler, distributor or dealer, there seems to still be a lot of confusion about what products truly apply. Allen has some good advice for educating employees and customers.

“We are showing the great website that Energy Star® (EnergyStar.gov) has related to the tax credits,” Allen says. “It’s the best resource to understand the credits available and explains what qualifies and what does not under the rules and regulations. Additionally, we are showing how the consumer can take advantage of these credits and use them to upgrade to better windows/doors or HVAC units.”

 


Shelter
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