Now that you are excited about buying or leasing an Electric Vehicle, you will need to understand the types of tax credits which apply to the vehicle, especially here in Georgia. And before you start counting the tax credits, be sure to consult with your own personal tax advisor or contact one of the tax preparation firms for advice. The EV tax landscape at the Federal level (200,000 manufacturer vehicle limit than phase down) and in the State of Georgia (2014 HB257 tried to eliminate the EV tax credit) are changing so it is ‘buyer beware’.
But here is some general information you should know about how the income tax credits work if you purchase or lease an EV/PHEV in Georgia;
1). Up to $7,500 Federal Income Tax Credit – If you purchase a qualifying EV/PHEV, the Federal Government offers a one time (one tax year) credit of up to $7,500.00 to offset income tax liability. Each qualifying vehicle has a designated tax credit amount based on its battery capacity (e.g. 16 kWh for Chevrolet VOLT supports the full $7,500 income tax credit). http://www.irs.gov/uac/Energy-Incentives-for-Individuals-in-the-American-Recovery-and-Reinvestment-Act for full details. Most of the fully electric vehicles (BMW i3, LEAF, VOLT, Tesla) qualify for the full $7,500. The Honda Accord Plug-In($3,626) and the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi models ($4,007) are significantly lower. IRS data as of June 24, 2014.
If you lease the EV/PHEV, the finance or leasing company takes the Federal Tax Credit and should provide the benefit of that credit to you through the lease payment (the calculation of which is already very complicated so ask the dealer to walk you through the lease payment worksheet). You do not get to claim the tax credit on your own taxes. So take time to understand what you are getting when you lease an EV!
2). Up to $5,000 State Income Tax Credit – if you purchase a qualifying ZERO EMISSION VEHICLE. Note the difference here. Not an EV or a PHEV but a ZEV. In Georgia that covers the Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S and the BMW i3. It does not apply to any vehicle which also has a gasoline powered engine or generator (Chevrolet VOLT, Ford C-Max and BMW i3 with range extender). Again if you lease a vehicle in Georgia, the ZEV tax credit goes to the finance or leasing company. Be sure you understand how that tax credit gets included in the calculation of your lease payment!
State of Georgia Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Tax Credit
An income tax credit is available to individuals who purchase or lease a new ZEV. The amount of the tax credit is 20% of the vehicle cost, up to $5,000. For the purpose of this credit, a ZEV is defined as a motor vehicle that has zero tailpipe and evaporative emissions, including a pure electric vehicle. Low-speed vehicles do not qualify for this credit. Any portion of the credit not used in the year the ZEV is purchased or leased may be carried over for up to five years. For more information, see the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Alternative Fuels and Tax Credits website.
Be aware that the 2015 Georgia Legislative Session will very likely amend/reduce the ZEV tax credit! So if you and your accountant agree that you can use the Georgia Tax Credit, consider making your lease or purchase as soon as possible in 2014.
The Federal and State of Georgia Income Tax Credits can be used on the same qualifying vehicle. So the maximum tax credit you can use is $12,500.00!