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USA; Electric car credit under review in Georgia

By RAY HENRY
Associated Press

ATLANTA — Tax credits for low- and no-emission vehicles would be eliminated or scaled back under a plan from Georgia lawmakers who say the incentives are too generous, but manufacturers are concerned the plan would put a dent in their sales.

House lawmakers have approved a plan from state Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, that would repeal a maximum $5,000 tax credit for consumers who buy or lease electric vehicles and up to $2,500 in tax credits for low-emission vehicles. The proposal is now pending before the state Senate.

The Republican lawmaker says the tax credits first adopted in 1998 are too generous and, if kept, should be expanded to reward other technologies that reduce foreign oil consumption and cut air pollution. That incentive cost Georgia taxpayers roughly $1.1 million in 2012, according to Georgia’s tax officials. The figure may change as the state continues to process tax returns.

Martin said that as electric cars become more popular, state taxpayers will be on the hook for a growing liability.

“I saw an uncapped, overly targeted, too rich credit where if we leave here this year and do nothing, I think that could easily be $30-to-40 million of state taxpayer liability for these credits,” Martin said.

That idea worries car manufacturers and dealers. As a minimum compromise, Martin agreed to roll back the date on which the tax credits would disappear under his plan. Martin has signaled he’s willing to compromise with a longer rollback period. One proposal he’s considering would make plug-in hybrid cars eligible for tax credits, cap the program at 6,000 vehicles annually and gradually reduce the value of the credits until they end in 2015.

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