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It's Tax Time: Have You Filed For Your Green-Car Credits?

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Tax forms by Flickr user bobt54

Tax forms by Flickr user bobt54

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One month from today, your 2011 Federal and state tax returns will be due.

(It would have been a month from yesterday, but April 15 falls on a Sunday this year.)

So consider this your friendly reminder to make sure that if you bought a plug-in car during 2011, you remember to apply for the Federal income-tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500, depending on its battery pack size.

Details of the Federal credit are completed on either Form 8936 (for regular cars) or Form 8834 (for two- and three-wheeled vehicles or low-speed electric cars). Each form has instructions attached.

Other credits include those for installation costs of an "alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit," which means for most buyers a home electric-car charging station (Form 8911), and for conversion of a gasoline car to a plug-in vehicle (Form 8910).

Of those four incentives, the credit for purchase of a regular plug-in vehicle remains in effect for 2012, but the other three expired on December 31. You can still claim them on your 2011 taxes, but that will be the last year--except for the purchase credit.

If you leased the plug-in car, mind you--most likely a Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt--you don't get to claim the credit. Instead, it's been claimed by the leaseholder, who used the money to reduce your monthly payment.

Money, money, money

Money, money, money

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While analysts largely agree that purchase rebates, which arrive in the form of a check just a few weeks after purchase, are better than income-tax credits, the incentive is nonetheless a welcome reduction in the high cost of a plug-in car.

As for state, regional, local, and corporate incentives on top of the Federal credit, they're far too numerous to go into here.

The advocacy group Plug-In America keeps a list of every incentive it's identified, available online.

Check your local area for those that may apply to you, and dream about Hawaii, which offers a $4,500 rebate on top of the Federal credit.

Sadly, the famous Colorado state credit that allowed buyers of $109,000 Tesla Roadsters to take $42,000 off their taxes expired at the end of 2009.

Ah, well.

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Comments (4)
  1. I would like to file for my green car credits, but until Nissan changes that bug-eyed look, I'll wait.
     
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  2. James, obviously you haven't done your homework. That 'bug eye' design keeps wind noise to a minimum. I prefer function over form. The LEAF is the quietest car on this planet!
     
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  3. To be fair, Nissan has a number of unattractive vehicles such as the Juke. So aerodynamics alone does not explain styling.
     
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  4. Garry, you are right in that the design is to reduce noise and it is also designed to help conserve power. I worked for Nissan, as part of their LEAF customer service team
     
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