August 17, 2006
The Energy Act of 2005 created major tax credit incentives for people purchasing hybrid vehicles. The IRS has recently concluded the quarterly review of manufacturers and issued tax credit status.
IRS Updates Hybrid Tax Credits Following Industry Audit
As part of the Energy Act of 2005, the federal government took a major step towards promoting the use of hybrid vehicles. In simple terms, it converted the tax deduction for purchasing a hybrid vehicle into a tax credit. This change was remarkable because a tax credit is very valuable because it is a reduction from the actual amount of tax you owe, not your gross income. Given the fact the tax credit could be over $3,000 for some models, this was a major boon for hybrid car sales!
Alas, the hybrid tax credits were not set in concrete in the tax code. Instead, they are known as phase out credits. In this case, the amount of the tax credit is first set by the IRS after a review of the car model in question. Each quarter, the IRS then totals all of the hybrid sales by manufacturer. Once the total sales reach certain milestones, the tax credit amount is reduced by a percentage. Eventually, the credits are completely phased out and the relevant automobile executives openly weep.
The magic sales threshold for hybrid manufacturers is 60,000 cars sold. Once a manufacturer hits this level, the credits phase out in a labored manner as is typical with taxes. Once the 60,001 car is sold, you still have until the end of the next quarter to buy and claim the full tax credit. Once that date is passed, you can still claim a credit for a new purchase, but at a rate of half the credit amount originally assigned by the IRS so long as you buy during the next two calendar quarters. After those dates pass, the credit is reduced to 25 percent of the original amount for two more credits. Thereafter, it is eliminated completely. Nice and simple, eh?
The IRS recently completed the quarterly audit for the manufactures. As of June 2006, the credit amounts for any Toyota hybrid have been cut in half as the company has met the first hybrid sales threshold. All other manufacturers, however, still qualify for the full tax credit amounts as they have not met said sales levels. The manufacturers include Honda, Ford and GM.
Richard A. Chapo is with Business Tax Recovery - providing information on taxes.