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Hybrid vehicles save more than just the environment

by Cindy Wendt, S&E editor


Save the world and claim it on your tax returns! According to an article in Earthwise, the newsletter of the Union of Concerned Scientists, people who buy HEVs, or hybrid electric vehicles, are eligible for a federal tax deduction.

HEV owners can receive up to a $2,000 deduction. HEVs have an integrated motor assist system that uses gas only to power an electric motor so less gas is used. Drivers of conventional cars have to “give it gas” to go faster, Fernando Luna, a Honda Windward employee said. With HEVs, the accelerator pedal taps electric power coming from the battery.

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“(HEVs) save so much gas you stop looking at the gas gauge,” said Luna, who owns an HEV himself. “The smaller gas tank means less dollars and cents.” He puts $18 of gas in his tank, and it takes him as far as 500 miles. The gas mileage for this vehicle is 50 miles per gallon or more.

The 2003 Honda Civic hybrid electric vehicle, which is built on the frame of the current sedan, will reduce hydrocarbon emissions by about 80 percent compared to the conventional car, giving it the nickname, “green car,” Luna said.

According to information provided at, the Web site for the Department of Energy, the 2003 Civic HEV is expected to be certified nationwide as an “Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle” without sacrificing normal driving conditions for the benefit of the environment. This HEV combines a small internal combustion engine with an electric motor, and it works with the usual automatic or manual transmission for good drivability. Most car shoppers know about the hybrids, but they choose not to buy them because they have “less umph,”

Luna said. Luna explained that, though HEVs cost about $2,000 more than a comparable vehicle, owners of HEVs break even the first few years and begin to save money by spending less on gas. “It does make a lot of difference.”

How HEV tax deductions work:
· HEVs qualify for the federal Clean Fuel Vehicle Tax Deduction.
· List the HEV as an adjustment to income on line 32 of the IRS 1040 tax form.
· Indicate “clean fuel” on the dotted line to the left of the deduction entry.
· For a past year of HEV ownership that was not filed, an amended tax return can be filed.
· Maximum deduction is $2,000.
· Deduction amount decreases by $500 each year until it is phased out.
· Vehicle must not be purchased for resale.
· Vehicles original use must begin with the owner wishing to qualify for tax deduction.
· For more detail on qualifying for the federal Clean Fuel Tax Deduction read the IRS Publication 535 which can be found



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