Electric car owners zapped by Georgia tax mistake

More than 800 Georgia plug-in electric vehicle owners are being notified the state wrongly denied them a $5,000 tax credit last year for owning a zero-emission car or truck, after a data entry error tripped up the state’s database.

A spokesman for the Georgia Department of Revenue said workers in the department’s taxpayer services division are manually re-applying the credits to 825 vehicle owners after catching the error May 18.

The fix comes after an estimated “several hundred” owners called the department to say they had received a denial letter for claiming the credit on their 2014 state tax returns, according to state Revenue Department spokesman Nick Genesi.

The state tracks electric vehicle owners through a certification database kept by the state Department of Natural Resources. Vehicle owners must apply to DNR for certification, and the natural resources department then electronically sends its database to state tax officials to confirm who has qualified for the credit.

A missing data field in that database caused the problem, Genesi said. He said this is the first time that has happened, despite the credit having been in place for more than a decade.

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Approximately 15,500 electric vehicles are registered in the state, most of them in metro Atlanta — giving the region the highest U.S. market share for plug-in electric vehicles.

However, state lawmakers voted earlier this year to eliminate tax credits for both low- and zero-emissions vehicles as of June 30. The estimated savings for the state is expected to average about $125 million a year over the next five years. Lawmakers said that money can instead be used toward transportation improvements for Georgia’s ailing roads and bridges.

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