In some of my more recent posts, I've been talking about the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit that is currently available to consumers for the 2011-2012 tax year. To avoid complications – and maybe a matter for another future post – let's assume that you're trying to claim the credit for the upcoming tax season, and haven't taken any renewable energy credits on your returns before.
If you placed a new energy upgrade in service this year – whether it's a new window or door, or a biomass stove – the IRS requires you to file the 2011 version of Form 5695. (The 2010 version was six pages long, with only two that needed to be filled out). Once you complete the form with the necessary information, submit it with your tax returns. (If you want to double check the filing with your tax accountant, that's probably a good idea.)
While the new version of the form – the one you'll need to fill out – isn't available yet, you can look at PDF versions of the 2010 version, which are still available online. This should give you a general idea of the kind of information you want to have ready when you sit down to finalize the document.
In addition, the IRS recommends that you save any receipts that indicate the costs you incurred making the purchase, as well as the Manufacturer's Certification Statement for the items. If you live outside of the continental United States or in the country's territories, as I know a few of you readers do, you may not be eligible for the credit, according to the EPA.
In this case, you may be better off purchasing an air conditioner or electric heater from an online retailer. I would advise this for anyone who also doesn't want to go through the hassle of making these potentially lengthy upgrades before 2012, as the tax credits are only applicable to purchases made by December 31.