Lawmaker seeks quick end to electric car tax credits

Georgia’s generous tax credit program for the purchase of electric vehicles would end July 1 under legislation to be filed in the state House this week.

Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, will introduce House Bill 122 on Wednesday. It would eliminate the $5,000 state tax credit for anyone who purchases an electric vehicle starting July 1. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Martin had signatures of support from more than 60 fellow House members.

But his bill will not be the only one to address tax credits for cars like the Nissan Leaf. Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, is preparing legislation that would reduce the credits and phase them out entirely in 2019. It would also broaden the credit to include plug-in hybrid vehicles like the Chevy Volt.

Martin sponsored similar legislation last year that twice passed the House but failed to get Senate approval.

In a recent column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Martin said the law needs changing whether you support the tax credits or not.

“Is it really good state policy to pay $50 million per year to let a select group of 10,000 or more individuals drive a particular type of car for free or almost free?” he asked.

When combined with the $7,500 federal tax credit for purchasing a zero-emission electric vehicle, the state credit can, in some cases, help cover the entire cost of a two-year lease.

Harbin’s bill, meanwhile, would maintain a less generous tax credit program for several more years.

“As the state has become a leader in these clean technology vehicles, Georgia companies are investing in workplace charging programs, Georgia utilities are seeing an increased demand for domestic energy, and economic opportunities are arising in the state due to the electric vehicle industry growth,” Harbin said. “Over the interim, I met with stakeholders to form a compromise addressing the concerns that were voiced last year. The bill I am introducing lowers the credit and creates a sunset that will diversify participation in the program.”“

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