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

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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