Finally, a topic that both the left and the right can find common ground on: the U.S. government's electric vehicle (EV) new purchase tax credits. Considered by many as a messy situation, the government is now open to ideas on how to rectify the issue.
In the middle of 2022, potential EV buyers were pleasantly surprised when Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin struck a deal that paved the way for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. This legislation offers up to $7,500 off for purchasing a qualifying EV.
Critics argue that these incentives are unnecessary, as EV sales have been on a steady rise. In fact, U.S. EV sales increased by an impressive 70% year over year by the end of the third quarter. Furthermore, some opponents of these benefits dislike the government's interference in the economy and its favoritism towards specific technologies – in this case, battery-powered cars – over others.
Proponents of the new law argue that these incentives will expedite the transition towards gasoline-free vehicles, ultimately benefiting the environment. Additionally, the legislation levels the playing field for Tesla (TSLA) and General Motors (GM), both of which were no longer eligible for incentives under the previous system. GM and Tesla had already reached their sales caps, resulting in penalties despite their success in selling EVs.
However, the new law is complex. The final credit earned by buyers depends on various factors, such as the car's country of manufacture, where the battery pack is assembled, whether the battery materials come from a friendly nation, the type of car purchased, its cost, and the buyer's income.
Facing challenges in accounting for all these variables, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is responsible for implementing the law under the Treasury Department, released a white paper in late December explaining their struggles.
Despite its complications, as we enter 2023, car buyers can still benefit from this tax credit. The IRS has provided a list of qualifying vehicles, published last year. However, comprehending the criteria for determining which vehicles qualify for the credit remains a challenging task.
It is evident that there are differing opinions regarding the U.S. government's electric vehicle tax credits. While critics question their necessity and the government's role in selecting favored technologies, proponents advocate for the benefits these incentives bring to the environment and fair competition. As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how these tax credits will evolve and shape the future of electric vehicles in the United States.
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Eligibility
At first glance, it may seem straightforward for sedans and smaller cars to qualify for the federal electric vehicle tax credit. They simply need to be priced under $55,000. For trucks and SUVs, the threshold is a bit higher, at $80,000. However, upon closer examination, some inconsistencies arise.
For instance, the Tesla Model Y has different classifications depending on its seating configuration. If the five-seat version surpasses the $55,000 price tag, it is considered a sedan and no longer eligible for the tax credit. On the other hand, the seven-seat configuration can qualify as an SUV if priced below $80,000. This means that a Tesla Model Y starting at around $65,000 would not meet the criteria.
Ford Motor's Mustang Mach E faces a similar challenge. Despite its SUV-like appearance, the IRS categorizes it as a sedan. Therefore, it must be priced under $55,000 to be eligible for the tax credit. Unfortunately, most Mach E trims are priced above this threshold.
Moving on to the General Motors (GM) Cadillac Lyriq, it too faces classification issues because of its size. While it may be larger than a sedan, according to the IRS, it falls within sedan dimensions. Therefore, it must cost less than $55,000 to qualify for the tax credit. However, with a starting price of $63,000, the Lyriq narrowly misses the mark.
Interestingly, the Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid faces no such issues. The IRS considers it an SUV and allows buyers to pay up to $80,000 while still receiving the tax credit. In fact, even though it is only a hybrid, it is eligible for the full credit. Currently, the battery size or electric vehicle range does not play a role in determining eligibility.
To put things into perspective, the Audi Q5, Mustang Mach E, and Tesla Model Y are all roughly the same size. The Lyriq is slightly longer than these three models.
Unfortunately, due to the early implementation of the new law, few electric vehicles made by U.S.-based auto manufacturers that are appealing to buyers will actually meet the eligibility requirements for the tax credit.
The puzzling nature of these classifications has prompted the IRS to welcome public input and comments on the application of the new law. This allows stakeholders, including Tesla investors, to express their concerns and opinions.
To submit comments, please visit this link.