Bill To Kill Georgia's Electric-Car Tax Credit Rises From The Dead

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National Drive Electric Week 2014: Atlanta. Photo by Michael Beinenson.

National Drive Electric Week 2014: Atlanta. Photo by Michael Beinenson.

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State politics can be a funny thing.

Last week, a Georgia House bill to end the state's $5,000 tax credit for purchase or lease of a battery-electric vehicle was voted down by its Ways & Means Committee.

But yesterday, it mysteriously reappeared and was unanimously passed by voice vote after it was deemed only to have been "tabled."

DON'T MISS: Fight To Watch: Georgia Plans To Alter Electric-Car Tax Credit (Dec 2014)

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which called the circumstances "curious," members of only one party were present at the time of the voice vote on the bill, HB 122.

That bill's sponsor, Representative Chuck Martin, had pushed for a similar bill last year, but it died on the last day of the legislative session.

Martin told the Atlanta Business Chronicle a year ago that while he supports the adoption of electric cars, he doesn't feel that taxpayer funds should go toward subsidizing that goal.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

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Meanwhile, a separate but concurrent bill (HB 220), sponsored by Representative Ben Harbin, makes different adjustments to the provisions of the state tax credit.

Most importantly for electric-car buyers, the bill continues the credits, but at a lower level, and expands them to plug-in hybrids as well as pure battery-electric vehicles.

Under the Harbin bill, the credits through December 2017 for purchase or lease of a plug-in vehicle would be $2,000 if the battery capacity is 4 to 10 kilowatt-hours (i.e. every plug-in hybrid except the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR).

ALSO SEE: Will Georgia's $5,000 Electric-Car Tax Credit Be Axed In 2015? (Jun 2014)

The credit rises to $3,000 for vehicles with batteries larger than 10 kWh, which encompasses the ELR, the Volt, and every battery-electric car on the market.

During 2018 and 2019, the two categories of credits would fall to $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.

The HB 220 bill continues a $2,500 tax credit for other forms of low-emission vehicles, but removes Flex-Fuel vehicles--those capable of running on E85 ethanol--from eligibility,

Aerial view of massive traffic snarl during Atlanta's 2014 snow storm, via NBC Charlotte @wcnc

Aerial view of massive traffic snarl during Atlanta's 2014 snow storm, via NBC Charlotte @wcnc

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Green Car Reports spoke last night to a Georgia political insider who has followed the negotiations closely.

That source reports that the Harbin bill "has momentum" among members at large, and expects the Georgia Senate to be less friendly than the House to legislation that kills the credit outright.

It's also noteworthy, the source suggested, that the president of the Georgia State Senate himself drives an electric vehicle.

MORE: Georgia Advocates Ask Legislature To Keep Electric-Car Tax Benefit (Feb 2014)

The reduced tax credits bring Georgia more in line with incentives in California, the state with more electric cars on the road than any other.

The Golden State, however, provides its incentives as purchase rebates--a check in the mail--rather than a credit on an individual's state tax return.

California presently rebates $2,500 for the purchase or lease of a battery-electric car, and $1,500 for a plug-in hybrid.

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