The IRS recently announced that the tax credit for purchasing the popular Tesla is being phased out and that the credit will drop to $3,750 after December 31, 2018, and will drop again to $1,875 after June 30, 2019. Then, the credit will no longer be available for a Tesla after December 31, 2019. But Tesla is not the only plug-in electric vehicle eligible for the credit, and a full list of vehicles qualifying for credit is available on the IRS’s website.
The plug-in electric vehicle credit applies to new plug-in electric cars or light trucks (less than 14,000 pounds). The tax credit is actually made up of two parts: the basic amount of $2,500, which requires the electric vehicle to have a battery with at least 5 kilowatt-hours of capacity, and an additional $417 credit for each kilowatt-hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt-hours. The total amount of the credit allowed for any qualified vehicle is limited to $7,500.
However, the credit begins to be phased out for a particular manufacturer’s vehicles when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold for use in the United States. That is what has happened with Tesla.
If you are not an electrical engineer, it may seem a little complicated to figure out which vehicles qualify for the credit and for how much. You can usually rely on the information provided by the dealer. However, to be on the safe side, you can verify which vehicles are qualified and the credit amount available, based on the vehicle’s kilowatt-hours and the reduction in credit due to the credit phaseout, by visiting the IRS’s website. From the list on the linked page, click on the manufacturer of the vehicle you are interested in to find out if the model and year of that vehicle qualify for the credit as well as the amount of the credit.
To be eligible for the credit, you must acquire the vehicle for use or lease and not for resale. Additionally, the vehicle’s original use must commence with you, and you must use the vehicle predominantly in the United States. The vehicle is not considered acquired before its title passes to you under your state’s laws. The credit is available whether you use the vehicle for business, personal use or a combination of both. The prorated portion of the credit that applies to business use becomes part of the general business credit, and any amount of the business credit not used on your return for the year when you purchase the vehicle can be carried back to the previous year and then forward until used up, but for no more than 20 years.
What a Dealer May Not Tell You – The portion of the credit that is not treated as a general business credit (i.e., the personal use portion of the credit) is non-refundable. That means it can only be used to offset your tax liability for the year when you purchase the vehicle, and any excess credit is lost.
The credit is a per-vehicle credit, so if you purchase more than one qualifying vehicle, you will receive the credit for each one.
If you have questions related to the electric vehicle credit, the phase-out, the tax liability limit or how any of these might apply to your specific tax situation, please give the team at Sweeney Kovar a call!