Pumping up the pimp tax, Stewart style
IRS makes call on booty

Precious little time left for Prius purchase

Toyota_dealership If you're a fan of the Prius and you want to take full advantage of the new tax credit available to purchasers of the hybrid, you better get to a dealership soon.

As mentioned in this earlier post, Toyota hybrids have been big sellers this year and under the law that created the tax credit, that means buyers could soon lose part of the tax break.

When Toyota hybrid sales, including the manufacturer's IRS-certified Lexus models, reached 60,000 in June, the full tax credit started phasing out. Details on that process can be found in this blog entry (60,000 countdown clock section), as well as this story I wrote for Bankrate.com.

The bottom line: on Oct. 1, the tax credit for any Toyota hybrid is cut in half. It will continue to be reduced until no credit is available by next October.

Silly? Yes. Counter-productive to the goal of getting more of us into autos that rely on less fossil fuel? Definitely. Politics as usual? Of course.

So if you want a Prius, which is Toyota's biggest hybrid seller, you best start shopping now. In some places, it could take up to four weeks, possibly more, to get one. That means you'll be cutting it close in driving it off the showroom floor by Sept. 30, which you must do to get the full credit.

Of course, other Toyota hybrid models (Camry, Highlander, Lexus) are readily available. But their full credit amounts (listed here) also will be reduced starting Oct. 1.

If you prefer a Honda, the full hybrid credit is available on those vehicles at least through the first part of 2007. The IRS says that through June, Honda had sold just under 18,500 hybrids, giving the automaker a 41,500-plus cushion before credits on its vehicles start fading away.

You'll have even longer to claim the full tax break if you want a GM or Ford/Mercury vehicle. Ford's total hybrid sales through June are almost 12,000; no official numbers yet for GM, but expect its tally to be much lower than its domestic competitor.

But if it's a Toyota hybrid or nothing for you and you want the most tax savings, too, time is running out.


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