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Georgia Advocates Ask Legislature To Keep Electric-Car Tax Benefit

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Today, Georgia is among the best places in the country to buy an electric vehicle.

Its electric-vehicle tax credit of $5,000 is among the highest offered by any state, and makes buying a battery-electric vehicle much more affordable.

But advocates for the bill are now appealing to Georgia legislature not to approve a bill to eliminate the tax credit that may be voted on this Monday.

On Wednesday, the Georgia House Income Tax Subcommittee passed HB257--a substitute bill that would eliminate the entire Georgia income tax credit for electric cars.

2014 Nissan Leaf

2014 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

Support, but don't subsidize?

The bill has been proposed by Representative Chuck Martin, who supports the adoption of electric cars but believes they shouldn't be subsidized by taxpayer money.

The bill has been approved by the Georgia Ways & Means Committee and will be voted on by the House on Monday--the last day a bill can be approved in one chamber of the legislature and still be adopted in the current session.

Several advocates, including electric car manufacturers themselves, are asking the House to consider what the bill means for buyers and potential buyers of electric vehicles.

Among them is Nissan, which enjoys strong Leaf sales in the state, partly thanks to healthy incentives like the tax credit and HOV lane access.

Nissan sees the incentives "as a way to increase consideration for electric cars among a broader group of consumers".

Others, including California-based electric car advocate Chelsea Sexton, believe the bill should instead be reformed, extending the to plug-in hybrid vehicles, albeit at a lower level than full battery-electric cars.

More money to spend in Georgia

Electric vehicle enthusiast Jason Bass has released a video, which you can watch above. In it, he explains the benefits of maintaining the tax credit in the state.

Georgia alternative fuel tax credit data 2000-2014 (Don Francis)

Georgia alternative fuel tax credit data 2000-2014 (Don Francis)

Enlarge Photo
Encouraging consumers to choose vehicles that save them money, he says, lets them spend more within Georgia, a benefit to the state's economy.

So far, the subsidies have been relatively low.

A graphic compiled by Don Francis, Coordinator of Clean Cities Georgia and Executive Director of Partnership for Clean Transportation Inc, shows total tax credits have amounted to less than $1.5 million since 2000.

If Jason Bass's video is correct, the potential economic benefits of keeping the credit--keeping money in the state, and in the country--could outweigh that significantly.

Opponents of the bill believe Georgia is removing its tax credit at just the wrong time, when more consumers are becoming aware of the benefits of electric vehicles.

Ending it now would be counterproductive, they say--and ending it as quickly as planned, with the change coming as soon as April 1 if the bill passes, even more so.

We'll learn on Monday whether the Georgia House votes to remove the tax credit.

But many will be hoping they look beyond the bare figures and consider some of the benefits of electric car adoption.

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