Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Uncle Sam will pay for your golf cart

A tax credit will cover part or all of the cost if it's a 'street-legal' vehicle.

By Karen Datko Dec 18, 2009 8:28PM

Time is running out to get your free golf cart. OK, a golf cart that’s “street-legal.” You have until Dec. 31 to take title of one to claim a tax credit for at least part of the purchase price.

 

We thank Kathy Kristof, personal-finance columnist at CBS MoneyWatch, for reminding us of this odd tax credit, created in 2008 as part of the Wall Street bailout and extended this year.

Here’s how this works:

  • Buy a four-wheel “neighborhood electric vehicle” certified by the IRS as qualifying for the credit. Kathy provides a list of links to information about eligible vehicles and how much of a tax credit each qualifies for. The amount is tied to the battery’s range and thus varies. It may or may not cover the entire cost.
  • You must have the title in hand by Dec. 31.
  • You’re eligible regardless of income.
  • The maximum credit you can claim ranges from $7,500 to $15,000, depending on the vehicle weight and battery, according to this IRS publication. (Check to see if your state also offers a credit.)
  • Be sure you’re paying enough taxes to make the credit worthwhile. If you are, this can be quite attractive. Kathy says that “if you owe Uncle Sam $6,500, but have a $6,500 tax credit for buying a neighborhood electric vehicle, you owe zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Uncle Sam just paid for your golf cart.”

What’s the difference between a street-worthy, neighborhood electric vehicle and a golf cart? Not much, says The Wall Street Journal, which dubbed this program “Cash for Clubbers.”

 

“These qualifying golf carts are essentially the same as normal golf carts save for adding some safety features, such as side and rearview mirrors and three-point seat belts. They typically can go 15 to 25 miles per hour,” the WSJ said.

 

Who would buy such a thing? Kay Bell at Don’t Mess with Taxes said that “if you find most of your daily driving is in an area close to your home -- and your jurisdiction allows them on the road -- and you can deal with an open vehicle most of the year, you might want to think about a NEV.”

 

Related reading:

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