June 11, 2014 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Arizona will start collecting property taxes in 2015 from solar companies that retain ownership of rooftop solar systems and lease them to customers after an effort failed in the legislature to overturn the tax.

The tax is expected to run $152 a year for a typical system, eating up about 42% of the $360 in annual savings a homeowner realizes by adding solar. Leases may require homeowners to reimburse the solar company for such taxes.

By statute, a system that a homeowner owns and uses to generate electricity for his own use is not considered to add to the value of the house for property tax purposes. The Arizona Department of Revenue said in a 2013 memo that this provision does not provide any relief from property taxes to a solar company that owns a system independently from the house.

The solar company must value the system for property tax purposes at 20% of its depreciated cost.