U.S. Treasury: Lots of people and automakers have cheated electric vehicle tax credit


Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders can give speeches all day about corporate greed, but there’s another set of people who’ve just been caught expressing some greed of their own. Congratulations, electric-car owners, you’re now in the crosshairs of the IRS.

A U.S. Treasury Inspector General report first brought to light by Forbes found that 7 percent of taxpayers claiming credits for plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars were in fact getting the tax break under false pretenses. That might not sound like a large number of the 239,422 claims that filers submitted between 2010 and 2017, but like anything else, the numbers add up. Given the broad, sweeping social services that presidential candidates keep promising Americans, at what point should $73.8 million in tax evasion look like small change? That’s the amount that 16,510 people and companies claimed on their taxes over that period of time who never had a right to do so, according to the IG report. And from the report, it appears automakers are as much to blame as their customers.

At issue is the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle credit that taxpayers claim when they purchase a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicle (hybrid, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are ineligible). President Obama initiated the credit as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, which allowed a reduction in federal tax liability of up to $7500 for any qualified vehicle entered into service starting in 2010. To recap, with some exceptions that have now expired for two- and three-wheelers, the vehicles must have weight ratings of under 14,000 pounds and have a battery of at least four kilowatt-hours.

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