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Electric vehicle tax credit for 2020

If you traded in your gas guzzler for an electric model, you could save big with this tax credit.

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Electric vehicles usually have a higher price tag than traditional gas guzzlers. But the federal government has a credit in place to help you go green. Here’s everything you need to know about the electric vehicle tax credit.

What is the electric vehicle tax credit?

The electric vehicle tax credit helps lower the upfront cost of buying a hybrid or electric vehicle. If you qualify, the credit lowers the amount of taxes you owe dollar for dollar.

How much is the electric vehicle tax credit worth in 2020?

The electric vehicle tax credit hasn’t changed for the past three years. The credit ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the size of your vehicle’s battery.

Use this chart to find your credit amount:

Electric vehicle tax credit limits 2020
If my battery is this many kilowatt-hours……then my electric vehicle tax credit is..
16 or more$7,500


The electric vehicle tax credit has quite a few limitations you should be aware of:

  • The credit isn’t refundable. If this credit reduces your tax bill to $0, you won’t receive a refund if any amount is left over.
  • Used vehicles don’t count. You must purchase the electric vehicle brand new to qualify for the credit.
  • You won’t receive the credit if you lease. The car dealership receives the credit for leased vehicles because it holds the vehicle’s title, not the customer.
  • Could have state and local incentives. Electric vehicle incentives vary by city and state, so research your area to see if you qualify for additional credits.
  • The credit phases out. Once a manufacturer has sold 200,000 electric vehicles in the US, the electric vehicle tax credit is reduced to 50% for two quarters, then by 25% for the third and fourth quarters. After that, it’s gone forever.

Who qualifies for the electric vehicle tax credit?

You qualify for the electric vehicle tax credit if you meet these requirements:

  • You bought a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle after December 31, 2009
  • You started driving it this year
  • You’re the original owner
  • You can legally drive it on public streets and highways
  • You primarily drive it in the US
  • It draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least four kilowatt-hours
  • It has at least four wheels
  • It weighs less than 14,000 pounds

If you qualify for the credit, your car manufacturer should give you a certificate explaining the make, model, year of your vehicle and how much your credit is worth.

Which types of vehicles qualify for the electric vehicle tax credit?
Alternative-fuel vehicle
Fuel-celled vehicle
Gas-powered vehicle you converted to electric
New plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle
Used hybrid or electric vehicle

What vehicles qualify for the electric vehicle tax credit?

Vehicles that qualify for the electric vehicle tax credit, include:

  • BMW i3
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Fiat 500e
  • Ford Focus Electric
  • Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid
  • Kia Soul EV
  • Kia Optima Plug-In
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Prius Prime
  • Volvo XC90 T8

How to calculate the electric vehicle tax credit

Follow these four steps to calculate your electric vehicle tax credit:

  1. Look up your vehicle’s battery size on the manufacturer’s website or in your manual.
  2. Use the Electric vehicle tax credit limits 2020 chart above to find out how much your credit is worth based on your battery size.
  3. Check the IRS website to see if your car’s manufacturer has begun the phase-out process.
  4. Use the credit phase-out chart below to determine the percentage your credit has reduced to.

The electric vehicle tax credit phase out

If your car manufacturer has sold this many electric vehicles……and it’s in this calendar quarter of the phase out process……then you’ll receive this much of your electric vehicle tax credit…
Less than 200,000N/A100%
200,000 or moreQuarter one or two50%
200,000 or moreQuarter three or four25%
200,000 or moreQuarter five or more0%

For example, if you qualify for a $7,500 tax credit but the car manufacturer is in the third quarter of the phase-out process, your credit is reduced to $1,875.

How to claim the electric vehicle tax credit

You use Form 8936 to calculate the electric vehicle tax credit. This form consists of three parts:

  • Part one is where you list your car’s information, including its year, make, model, VIN and purchase date.
  • Part two is where you calculate how much your credit is worth if you bought your vehicle for business or investment purposes.
  • Part three is where you calculate how much your credit is worth if you bought your vehicle for personal use.

Once you fill out Form 8936, you’ll report your credit amount on Form 1040 if you bought your vehicle for personal use or Form 3800 if you bought it for business use. Or you can use it to pay down an existing alternative minimum tax bill if you have one.

There are two other tax credits and deductions you should look into if you qualify for the electric vehicle tax credit:

  • Residential energy tax credit. You could save up to 30% on any solar panels or solar water heaters you bought this year.
  • Property tax deduction. You can write off your vehicle registration if it includes a fee based on the value of your vehicle.
  • Motor vehicle tax deduction. You can write off operational expenses if you’re self-employed and use your vehicle for work.

Compare tax filing services

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Intuit TurboTax
File returns electronically and get taken step by step through the tax-filing process, so that you can receive the fastest refund possible for yourself, and/or your business.
Keeper Tax
Keeper Tax helps people with 1099 income automatically find tax write-offs among their purchases. At tax time, file federal and state directly for $89 or export to file elsewhere for $39.
Liberty Tax
Choose from EZ, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium packages to support the simplest or the most complicated of returns; including business and investments.
TaxAct offers downloadable and online tax preparation services for personal, business and enterprise use
eSmart tax
Compare tax preparation plans for this software backed by Liberty Tax Service.
TaxSlayer offers free federal and state filing for simple returns and $0 federal return to service members filing with a military EIN.
H&R Block
File simply and securely with tax software from H&R Block.
File federal returns for free and pay $12.95 for state returns with this online tax preparation software.

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Bottom line

If you bought a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle this year, the electric vehicle tax credit is a great way to reduce your tax bill — and indirectly lower your upfront costs. But it only works if you owe taxes because none of the credit is refundable.

Before you file taxes, consider hiring a professional or shop around for an online service that can help you save the most money on taxes.

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