South Carolina's plug-in hybrid vehicle tax credit expired, anot - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

South Carolina's plug-in hybrid vehicle tax credit expired, another credit remains

(Source: WMBF News) (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the tax filing deadline looms, if you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle you may be in for a surprise when it comes to South Carolina Credits.

We learned electric vehicles don't qualify for any state credit. And the hybrid vehicle credits are on the way out. One concerned driver reached out to us, to get some attention for his complaint with the state's policy.

"It's like nothing I've ever driven before," said Paul Ayala while showing off his all electric Nissan Leaf to WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely.  He says it brings him joy and convenience.  "I don't have to stop at gas stations anymore."

Ayala says it also brings him peace of mind and peace and quiet with a silent motor.   "I'm not wasting gasoline - we're putting CO2 and carbon into the air or polluting the air - it's zero emissions," he said. 

Ayala gets about 100 miles of range on every overnight charge.  There is less range for quicker charges, like the one he showed us at a free public spot.  He got thousands of dollars in credits and rebates from the feds and Nissan, and was expecting up to $2,000 more from South Carolina.  

"A few of the websites said SC offered rebates, and they specifically mentioned hybrid plug-ins and alternative fuel, and I just assumed electric was included in that," Ayala said.

Instead, State Department of Revenue employees told him all-electric cars don't qualify for an income tax credit. Seven others like him were denied so far this year for the same reason.  The SCDOR confirmed that only hybrid-gas-electric cars qualify.  

"I was really disappointed and angry I guess, because I thought the electric cars, if anything, should be getting good tax rebates and credits, and with SC that isn't the case," Ayala said. "A lot of states and the federal government offer the best rebates for electric vehicles, so I was very surprised."

We learned even the hybrid credit expired in 2016, for those who didn't file by the tax deadline in 2017.  And demand for those credits appears to be dwindling, or not many hybrid owners know about the credits.

"I think it has to be promoted more both by the dealer, the state and the federal government," said Ayala. 

South Carolina Department of Revenue Public Information Director, Bonnie Swingle, helped answer our questions about the credits.  You can see the credits increased up until 2014 when state employees approved 91 plug-in hybrid vehicle credit applications, for a total of more than 166 thousand dollars of tax credits. Approvals dropped to 38 in 2015 for just over $67,000 and edged up slightly to 51 so far for 2016 adding up to a little more than $83,000 in credits to taxpayers. Comparing the highest year, 2014, to 2016, you can see the numbers of applicants and credits have fallen by almost half. 

Car Credits: 
2016: $83,397
2015: $67,694
2014: $166,015
2013: $134,663
2012: $112,436

South Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill to include electric vehicles like Paul's and extend that now-expired hybrid rebate, but it never got out of committee last year.   Paul has reached out to local lawmakers to ask why. "Very disappointing, I don't understand why, hopefully we'll get some word back from our representatives," he said.

State Senator Luke Rankin told us: "This hasn't reached serious debate yet in either house or senate. As a state policy to subsidize, there are competing interests/realities: prices for these cars are coming down, versus long-term cost of more battery cars using roads but not paying already low gas taxes."

State Representative Alan Clemmons said: "At a time when the General Assembly is working to find the funding to maintain our roads and bridges, one must consider the wisdom in diverting South Carolina taxpayer funds to subsidize electric cars."

Ayala suggested the state "impose a fee - some states do a $100 a year for electric cars, to help with the infrastructure of the roads." He says he'd be happy to pay a road tax fee as an electric car driver, based on all the money he's saving on gasoline.  

"It hasn't really impacted my electric bill from what I can see," he said, adding that he's just hoping South Carolina lawmakers listen. "Open their eyes and give electric cars some rebates and tax credits, for the environment and let people know that electric is probably the way of the future."  

Ayala thinks the future of electric vehicles is difficult to ignore. "Once they drive electric, I don't see many people going back," he said.

There are only around a dozen states that offer tax credits for plug-in vehicles.  Those don't include our neighboring states of North Carolina or Georgia.  However, federal credits remain, go here for details: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml

For more details on the SC rebate, which expired for tax year 2016, select: New Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Credit Information here

That credit expires, if this document is not filed by April 18th, 2017: https://dor.sc.gov/forms-site/Forms/TC48A_2016.pdf

However you may qualify for future SC vehicle credits by submitting this form: https://dor.sc.gov/forms-site/Forms/TC35_2016.pdf#search=hybrid

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