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Saving Green

July 01, 2009
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For Sue Little, the decision to install an energy-efficient lighting system in her Newburyport, Mass.-based Jabberwocky Books was simple. It promised to save at least $2,350 a year in energy costs and could qualify her for substantial tax savings, too.

"I'll know if we qualify when I hand everything over to my accountant for my 2007 returns," she says. "But in the first five months it has already saved us $2,000 in electrical costs, so I think it's a good possibility."

Going green can save more than the environment – for small-business owners operating on a tight budget, it can save their bottom lines, too. With tax breaks available to green businesses, it is now cheaper than ever to make your enterprise eco-friendly. Check out these green ways that will keep you in the black come tax time:

Build green. Investing in energy-saving office equipment pays off twice – once with utility bills and again with taxes. Through 2008, owners and tenants of buildings can receive a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for reducing by at least half the energy used to heat, cool, ventilate and light a workplace. "This is a great move for anyone," Little says. "You can save your business a lot of money. It's simple."

Buy a company hybrid. Under the Federal Comprehensive Energy Bill, quality hybrids like the Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius or Ford Escape Hybrid can yield tax credits ranging from $1,700 to $3,150.

The credits are available until Dec. 31, 2010, but will expire earlier for the most popular hybrid models due to a provision in the bill. When a manufacturer sells 60,000 hybrids, a phase-out period begins after the following calendar quarter, eventually reducing tax savings to 25% of the original value. Some models--the Honda Civic Hybrid, in particular – have already reached the sales mark, but it's not too late to take advantage of other hybrid tax savings.

Go solar. Among the cheapest renewable resources, solar power can provide enough energy to run a business with little or no utility costs. Previously, solar equipment was too expensive for most businesses to consider, but the Business Solar Tax Credit makes it more affordable. When you purchase fuel cell power plants, solar energy property or fiber-optic property, you qualify for a 30 percent tax credit.

– Courtesy of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. For more information on this topic, visit