Climate change and electric cars: How will future cars stop global warming?
Electric cars have become a hot trend. But how much better for the environment than gas or diesel cars?
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Electric cars are going mainstream in a major way. Last year they accounted for 7.1% of all new cars purchased. Look for these numbers to take another leap forward into the future as the $7,500 tax credits kick in for some electric cars and trucks.
It’s part of the Reducing Inflation Act, landmark legislation passed in August of 2022 that provides financial incentives for Americans to buy electricity when it comes to cars and appliances as the nation moves away from fossil fuels. There are also incentives to upgrade appliances and green your home.
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This could go a long way toward helping the United States transition to zero-carbon energy. Transportation was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2022, according to the 2023 Sustainable Energy America Factbook.
While the law itself was passed eight months ago, many details are still being worked out, so figuring out if you or the car you want qualifies isn’t easy and there’s still a lot up in the air. You’ll need to carefully check your personal eligibility and vehicle eligibility—the latter can change quickly.
Accessing the tax credit may become more difficult soon, however, when battery sourcing requirements come into playAnd Possibly restrict eligible cars. But things should get easier in 2024 when you can transfer the tax credit to your dealer so you get a rebate up front.
Here’s what to know, for now, about the electric car tax credits:
Conclusion: When Should You Buy an EV?
- about to buy? Do it soon – like now. The number of eligible vehicles may decrease in 2023 for complex reasons, which you will learn about below. If you’re about to buy, scroll quickly for the most options and best chance at savings.
- Are you still searching? Take your time – 2024 may be a better time to buy. The rules will be finalized in the coming months and merchants can give you discounts next year. Overall, getting these discounts should be a much smoother experience if you’re able to wait.
Who qualifies for electric vehicle tax credits? What vehicles qualify?
The law gives qualified vehicle buyers up to $7,500 in tax credits Purchase of a new electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid and up to $4,000 for a used car. but, there Income limits and price ceilings.
Income Eligibility Limits:
- Combined households make up to $300,000 or less.
- Heads of household earning $225,000 or less.
- Single taxpayers earn $150,000 or less
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Clean energy record: More than 40% of the electricity in the United States now comes from carbon-neutral sources
Funds are only available as non-refundable tax credits. This means that you can’t get more money back in the tax withholding than you actually owe in taxes.
Let’s say you buy a Chevy Bolt for $27,000. If your household pays the federal government at least $7,500 in taxes and you meet the credit requirements, your tax bill will be reduced by that much.
If you only owe $3,000 in taxes, you can only get a $3,000 credit, even if you qualify for the full $7,500, said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.
On average, in 2020 Americans whose adjusted gross income was between $50,000 and $75,000 paid $4,567 in taxes, according to the IRS. Those who won between $75,000 and $100,000 paid out $7,363.
That means middle- and upper-income families are more likely to benefit from tax breaks because of how the law is written, said Sage Briscoe, senior director of federal policy enforcement with Rewiring America, an electric nonprofit.
“Non-refundable tax credits favor those with larger tax bills, and those who tend to be higher earners,” she said.
The new battery base might change things
The IRA contains language that requires battery components used in an electric vehicle to be manufactured or assembled in North America and that critical metals be sourced from the United States or a country with which the United States has a free trade agreement or recycled in North America, but it is not fully articulated. The requirements are also getting stricter over time because Congress wanted to encourage automakers to shift electric vehicle battery production to the United States.
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Soon — perhaps by the end of March — the IRS will release new regulations detailing how this will work. These are some of the more complicated parts of a clean car credit for an IRA.
Once the regulations go into effect, “a lot of vehicles currently eligible for the $7,500 full credit will likely only qualify for half of the credit,” said Chris Harto, senior energy policy analyst at Consumer Report.
To avoid that, you’ll need to buy — and pick up — an EV before the rules come out.
“If they said you’d get it in May, you might be stuck,” Briscoe said.
The EV tax credits will change again in 2024
Starting in 2024, buyers can also roll the EV tax credit over to the dealer, so they get a $7,500 rebate up front.
How exactly this will be implemented is not yet known.
“It’s unclear how a merchant will know you qualify for full credit,” Luscombe said. “Maybe that’s why I delayed a year so the IRS could find out.”
It’s also possible that some EV manufacturers whose cars don’t qualify, because they’re too expensive, may offer to match the tax credit, so definitely check their websites.
Get up to $1,000 off when you install an electric vehicle charger
Once you have an EV, you may need an EV charger at home. An IRA renews tax credit that covers 30% of the installation cost, up to $1,000.
As written, the law includes geographic restrictions on where the credit can be used to encourage the installation of public chargers in low-income rural areas.
Check out the American Electrical Rewiring website To see if you qualify.
Use these calculators to see if you qualify
Keith Barry, an automotive writer for Consumer Reports, said the DFA’s tax breaks around electric vehicles are so complex that consumers should be wary.
“You should always double check your seller accounts,” he said. “It’s not that they’re doing something malicious — buying a car is a very complicated process. Car salespeople aren’t accountants.”
Consumer Reports, long a go-to for car buyers, has it A tool for understanding electric vehicle incentives and tax credits.
America’s Electric Rewiring also offers a comprehensive network Calculator for all IRA tax credits and deductions.
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