Hybrid Feed

You knew I couldn't let St. Patrick's Day slip by without reminding you of the many green tax breaks out there that could be almost as valuable as a leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Let's start at home. If you made energy home improvements to your residence last year, be sure to claim your generous tax credit. It could save you $1,500 on your tax bill. But 2010 was the last year for such a big energy and environmental tax break. The residential energy-efficient tax credit that took over on Jan. 1 is a much... Read more →


Watching folks parse election results is almost as much fun (or pain, depending on how your candidates did) as watching the voting tallies come in on those fateful Tuesday nights. Every sector has a take on what the political change in the House of Representatives might mean to it. Today, I ran across an automotive industry perspective in the post-election edition of Autoline Detroit. Nolan Finley of The Detroit News and Edward Lapham of Automotive News joined host John McElroy to discuss Politics as Unusual, or how the midterm election affects the folks who make the cars we drive. Click... Read more →


Gas prices going up, while VW and Audi vehicle credits heading lower

Summer is almost here. We know because as temperatures are climbing, so is the price of gasoline. With the kids getting out of school, most families will find a way to take a vacation. And most will drive to their recreation destinations. So the old supply and demand kicks in at the pump. Some oil industry analysts predict that gasoline will hit $3 a gallon this summer. But there are ways to cope with higher fuel costs. CBS Moneywatch.com editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg offers five ways to make your fill-up go further. I made many of the same suggestions a couple... Read more →


Despite some still crisp nights, summer vacation season is fast approaching. I know this not from weather reports, but because gasoline prices here in Texas have gone up for four straight weeks. That trend also is apparent nationwide. My little old Cavalier still gets decent mileage, so I'm not in the market for new car. Heck, even the new vehicle tax deduction couldn't persuade me to buy one last year. But some folks who perhaps didn't take part in Cash for Clunkers or, like me, put off a new car purchase in 2009 might now be finding they need new... Read more →


With Toyota's troubles, General Motors and Ford are hoping to get new customers who now want to give the domestic car makers another shot. And some of those who might have had their hearts set on a Prius are perhaps looking at other hybrid options. If you are a Blue Oval fan, then you might want to go shopping for a fuel-efficient Ford sooner rather than later. Remember that tax credit for hybrids? The one that dwindles as a manufacturer sells more and more of the vehicles? Well, the hybrid tax credit is phasing out on eligible Fords. In fact,... Read more →


On Aug. 5, 1861, the United States' first personal income tax was created when the Revenue Act of 1861 became law. It was 3 percent of all incomes over $800. It was designed to help finance a military conflict, the Civil War. Taxes weren't actually collected until the next year, when it was officially signed into law by a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. This initial income tax was rescinded in 1872, so technically today is not the levy's actual 148th birthday. I guess it's more appropriately viewed as an anniversary, but birthdays usually call for cakes, so that's the celebration... Read more →


Based on participation numbers, the cash for clunkers program has been a great success. In fact, it was almost too successful. When the program, officially known as Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), took effect on July 24. It was scheduled to run through Nov. 1 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever happens first. Last week, the money clause kicked in -- almost. Looking at a dwindling CARS account and shoppers still heading to dealerships, the House on July 31 approved an additional $2 billion to continue the program. The Senate is expected to follow suit next week. For car... Read more →


Gas prices went up again today. It's the 48th straight day they've increased, matching a record for this decade. If that trend continues, some folks might be seriously thinking about buying a new, more fuel-efficient car. What makes the option, even in a recession, more appealing is that there are some tax breaks associated with certain vehicle purchases. And the IRS just improved one of those tax benefits that had been out of reach for some buyers. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka the latest stimulus package signed into law on Feb. 17, includes a deduction for... Read more →


Ford bests Toyota & other auto/tax news

Well, here's an unexpected bright spot for U.S. automakers: Ford outsold Toyota for the first time in at least a year. Of course, the rest of the story isn't really that that positive. The American automaker didn't best its Japanese counterpart. Rather, Ford didn't have as big a drop-off in sales as Toyota. But, hey, any straw for an industry that's grasping. Toyota saw a 42 percent decline in April, while Ford's U.S. sales fell "just" 32 percent. Meanwhile, the country's top-selling car maker, General Motors Corp., reported a 33 percent drop. Bankruptcy bargains: Meanwhile, Chrysler is now dealing with... Read more →


I'm a race fan. In fact, when I began writing this, I was watching the NASCAR Nationwide series race from Talladega. Earlier in the day, there was Sprint Cup qualifying from 'Dega. And before that, on DVR because 6 a.m. is just too darn early any day, but especially on a Saturday, the F1 boys fought for the pole in Bahrain. The hubby and I will watch that tape tonight as part of our exciting weekend. So, being a confirmed fast and furious addict, when Forbes magazine said it had found the 10 fastest fuel-efficient cars, I had to take... Read more →


Happy Earth Day! To encourage us to be more environmentally friendly not just on April 22, but on every other day of the year, Uncle Sam offers several tax breaks. Home As noted in my earlier post on Missouri's energy-efficient appliances sales tax holiday, you can claim a tax credit on the federal level for certain home improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AKA the Obama stimulus) which became law on Feb. 17 offers taxpayers a credit of up to $1,500 for some energy-efficient home improvements. Under the federal credit, which can be claimed on 2009 returns filed next... Read more →


With all the hubbub surrounding the crashing economy and stimulus payments, not to mention end-of-year tasks (tax and otherwise) and new year's resolutions (tax and otherwise), this slipped right past me. Ford hit the magic 60,000 hybrid sales mark in the fourth quarter of 2008. Actually, it went over it. By the end of last year, the auto manufacturer had sold 66,157 hybrid vehicles. You know what that means. The tax break for hybrids will start to phase out. Soon. Like in a week and a half. Ford phaseout time line: Under the law that created the tax break back... Read more →


Are you ready to party!? I don't want to get in the way of your New Year's Eve preparations, but I do want to mention a few literally last-minute tax moves that could be a real cause for celebration. Since time is fast running out, I'll be quick. Charitable giving You've got to make charitable gifts today if you want to claim them on your 2008 return. This means getting any clothing or household appliances to your favorite charity's drop-off location before it closes this afternoon. You have a bit more leeway with monetary contributions. Most nonprofits take credit cards,... Read more →


Time to hike the federal gas tax?

So many good headlines on today's New York Times' editorial pages. "Heaven for the Godless?" "Curbing Credit Card Predators." "Why We're Still Happy." And my favorite: "Stop Being Stupid." But since the ol' blog's bread and butter is taxes, I'm directing your attention to "The Gas Tax." The paper's editorial writer argues that the only way to make the auto bailout work is to ensure that motorists purchase the fuel-efficient vehicles the car makers must build in order to keep the federal money. The worry is that as long as gasoline stays below $2 a gallon, we'll all go back... Read more →


Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2008

With energy issues getting a lot of attention, both because of this year's spike in gasoline prices and the presidential campaign, Congress is renewing pre-election efforts to address the issues. The House Ways and Means Committee, still under the guidance of Rep. Charles Rangel, has released its latest version of energy tax legislation. The Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2008 will provide approximately $18 billion of tax incentives for investment in such things as renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. As per House pay-go rules, these costs will be offset by repealing tax subsidies for the "Big 5" oil companies... Read more →


Honda hybrid credit drops again July 1

Attention hybrid shoppers. If you want a gas-electric Honda, you'd better get to a dealership soon. On July 1 the tax credit for all Honda hybrids will be reduced yet again. The Honda tax break started its mandated phaseout on Jan. 1. That day, the original credit amounts for each Honda hybrid was cut in half, and that lower level continues for purchases made through June 30. But after that, the tax savings will be just a quarter of the original amounts. The table below shows the Honda hybrid credits for eligible vehicles bought last year (and which still can... Read more →


Earth Day tax celebration

I've done my part for Earth Day. I did as little as possible, thereby consuming as little energy as I could, for the first 12 hours of this annual day of attention to environmental issues. Too bad there's not a tax break for laziness! But there are scads of other energy and environmental tax benefits. Here's a quick roundup, as well a look at the many ways energy, the environment and taxes are connected. Automotive: How fitting that Earth Day this year falls in the week when, for the first time in U.S. driving history, the nationwide average price of... Read more →


Year-end auto buying tips

I love those car dealership end-of-year closeout ads that are flooding my TV screen. Those guys really, really, really want to get rid of the cars still stuck on their lots. The major impetus for the "Sale! Sale! Sale!" announcements used to be the inventory tax, the levy assessed on property held by businesses at the end of the year. Most most states and localities have done away with the inventory tax, but the year-end effort to unload autos remains. It's a proven way to move old models to make room for the newer versions. If you're thinking about taking... Read more →


Automotive tax-o-rama

A lot's been happening in the auto/tax area of late and my notes have been piling up, so I've decided to put them all -- the energy bill, standard mileage deduction amounts and the latest on the hybrid tax credit -- in this one auto tax-o-rama item. This'll be long, so let's get started. First, the energy bill. The House approved a measure that would (1) create a national renewable electricity standard, (2) raise $21 billion in taxes, primarily from repealing oil company tax breaks, and (3) require automakers to raise average fuel economy standards. The current corporate average fuel... Read more →


$3+ gas in November, a costly first

For the first time ever, the national average of regular gasoline hit $3-plus a gallon in November. And that's before any of us even start our cars to head over the river and through the woods to grandma's for Thanksgiving. Anyone want to venture a guess on what the per-gallon pain will be in a couple of weeks ... or by Christmas? One expert says it won't be so bad. Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza told USAToday that while pump prices have a little bit of catching up to do to reflect the recent surge in oil costs,... Read more →