Electric Vehicle Tax Credits and Rebates Explained
If you are interested in buying or leasing an EV, here’s what you need to know about federal and state incentives.
The quality of EVs has improved greatly in recent years. And because the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen so much, we now have several affordable choices.
The federal tax credit can cut your costs by up to $7,500 on top of the impressive discounts offered through Drive Green.
With these incentives, most of the cars in our program cost much less than the average new car in America as of April 2019.
Federal Tax Credits
Plug-in electric vehicles qualify for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The full amount of the tax credit depends on the battery size of the vehicle. If you buy the car in one year, you get the credit when you file your 1040 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for that tax year. We say “up to” $7,500 because the credit is limited by your tax liability. If you owe $7,500 or more, you can take the full credit. If you owe less, say $5,000, you can take a credit on what you owe. The IRS will not write you a check.
This tax credit is available to car purchasers only. If you lease a car, the leasing company gets the tax credit, which is why several dealers are offering attractive leasing options. They are passing at least some of the value of the tax credit onto the terms of the lease.
Tesla sold 200,000 cars in July 2018 so Tesla buyers will be eligible to receive an $1,875 credit cars bought through the end of the 2019 year, after which it will expire completely. General Motors (which makes Chevrolet cars) sold its 200,000th car in the fourth quarter of 2018. The federal tax credit for Chevrolet EVs is $1,875 for cars bought until March 31, 2020, at which point it will expire. Of the car manufacturers in our program, Nissan is next in line to hit the 200,000-car-mark, but it's unclear when that will occur. We'll update this page as we learn more, but you can find a good summary of where each car manufacturer stands here.
Keep that in mind as you decide on which EV to buy or lease. It's an important consideration if you're waiting a few years to buy or if you prefer to lease now and buy later, with an eye towards getting an EV that is even better than what’s available today. We can expect quality improvements and several more choices by 2020, but it’s anyone’s guess at what an EV will cost then and what federal incentives will be available.
Edmunds Guide for Federal Tax Incentives
If you have more questions about federal tax credits, we recommend the Edmunds Guide. They have the most up-to-date information about which cars qualify, the maximum incentive you can receive for each car, and how the credits phase out after manufacturers sell their 200,000th model.
The Massachusetts state MOR-EV rebate expired on September 30, 2019. There is an effort pending in the legislature to extend this important consumer incentive, for which we are advocating at the State House. If you purchased your all-electric vehicle before the September 30th deadline, you have until the end of 2019 to apply for the rebate - but the sooner, the better.
Rhode Island had a similar consumer rebate, called DRIVE, which ended in the summer of 2016 due to lack of funding. Refunding this incentive program continues to be one of our advocacy priorities in Rhode Island.