SolarCity, SunRun to sue over Arizona property tax battle



A legal fight against property taxes levied onto leased PV systems in Arizona has begun in earnest, with residential leasing companies SolarCity and SunRun filing a lawsuit on Monday.

The two companies are seeking legal redress in the Superior Court following the the Arizona Department of Revenue (DOR) decision earlier this year to end an exemption on property taxes applicable to third-party owned solar power systems on residential rooftops.

Both companies confirmed separately to PV Tech that the complaint had been filed and forwarded a copy of the official documents (see below). Bryan Miller, vice president of public policy at SunRun, told PV Tech that the company had yet to hear back from the department of revenue but also that SunRun had attempted to open a dialogue with the DOR prior to lodging the legal complaint. 

“The Department of Revenue has not yet responded. There were attempts made at dialogue, however the DOR refused to revisit their position,” he said

Miller was adamant that the legal basis for his company’s complaint is solid.

“The Department of Revenue reinterpreted existing law to impose this tax. The law is clear – solar systems intended for on-site consumption add no value for property tax purposes.”

Miller also points out that as with any tax, the end user – in this case the householder with the leased system on their roof, rather than the leasing company which owns the system – will end up paying. Nonetheless they are keen to avoid that liability.

“The first taxes would be due October 2015. Between now and then, we'll take every opportunity possible to stop this tax,” Miller said.

PV Tech reported the story previously and spoke with Matt Feinstein, analyst at Colorado-based Lux Research, in May. He said the proposed changes “would nullify a significant part of the savings that distributed solar customers gain, so it would be very damaging [to the industry]”. Feinstein also argued it was likely the new development was another tactic to resist the increased deployment of solar.

SolarCity – Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (4)

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