Tax forms by Flickr user bobt54

Tax forms by Flickr user bobt54

Despite all the green love Toyota gets, Ford builds and sells hybrids too. In fact, they've now built enough of them that tax breaks for buying a Ford hybrid will start to wind down at the end of March.

The full tax credit only applies to sales of the first 60,000 hybrids from each carmaker. Toyota and Honda passed that threshold long ago, and Ford is right at the limit.

TODAY'S TAX TIP: If you want to claim the full $3,400 credit, buy your Ford hybrid by March 31. After that, the credit is halved for six months (to $1,700), and in October it halves again (to $850). The credit goes away altogether next April. 

It applies to most taxpayers (consult your accountant, if you have one) who buy one of the following: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid or Mercury Mariner Hybrid (twin small crossover SUVs), or the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid or Mercury Milan Hybrid (twin midsize four-door sedans).

The two new hybrid sedans are just reaching Ford and Mercury dealers this month, so you'll have to act fast if you want to claim the credit for either one.

We were reminded about the expiring tax credit when Ford issued a press release celebrating its 100,000th hybrid. Yesterday, Ford employee Pat France drove the silver 2009 Escape Hybrid off the Kansas City assembly line that has built Escape and Mariner Hybrids since 2004.

Ford says that more than 90 percent of the total was Escape Hybrids, with the Mariner a niche player. A small handful of Mazda Tribute Hybrids were also built.

More than 1,400 yellow Escape Hybrids are in use as taxis in New York City--roughly 10 percent of the total fleet--complete with roof lights and bulletproof partitions (plus an ad-streaming video screen that riders promptly switch off).

The hills of San Francisco are home to 250 more Escape Hybrid cabs, one of which has accumulated more than 300,000 miles--which should set to rest any worries about the durability of the electric motors or battery packs.

Gas mileage for the hybrid Escape and Mariner is a very respectable 34 (city) / 31 (highway). The Fusion and Milan hybrid sedans do better yet, at 41 (city) / 36 (highway), handily beating their direct competitor, the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

So you're wondering why the limit of 60,000 tax credits is being reached when 100,000 have been produced? The credit only applies to individual buyers, not fleets, nonprofits, companies--and lots of the Escape Hybrids have gone to fleets, including those taxis.

The 100,000th Ford hybrid rolls off the Kansas City assembly line, March 2009

The 100,000th Ford hybrid rolls off the Kansas City assembly line, March 2009

[PHOTO: Flickr user bobt54]