Rich Are Officially Cut Off From California’s Electric Vehicle Rebates

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For six years California has given anyone that buys an electric vehicle in the state a $2,500 tax rebate. In theory, it’s a way to boost the adoption of zero emissions vehicles, and it has – primarily for people that can afford one. Now the rules have changed.

As of this month any individual making over $250,000 a year won’t be eligible for a tax rebate if they purchase an EV. Instead, the state will begin issuing rebates based on income, targeting potential buyers that are closer to median earnings in the state.

The new rules, adopted on July 1, outline that an individual making less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit ($35,310) or a family of three earning less than $60,270 are eligible for a $4,000 rebate for an EV (up from $2,500), $3,000 for a plug-in hybrid (up from $1,500), or $6,500 for a fuel-cell vehicle.


The changes in rebate amounts and incomes is an attempt to incentivize the people that could benefit the most from the cash and maybe bring the number of EVs sold to “normals” back into line. The most recent data from the Center for Sustainable Energy shows that less than a quarter of all EVs in the state are sold to people earning less than six figures, while the remainder are being sold to people making between $100,000 to $500,000 or more.

Still, it’s not a complete about-face from the state.


The standard rebate in effect since 2009 still stands at $1,500 for plug-in hybrids and $2,500 for EVs, but are limited to people in the income space between the 300-percent figure and $250k a year for individuals, $340k for heads of household, or $500k for joint families.

Individuals making over $250k a year or $500k and filing jointly are ineligible for any rebates for EVs or plug-in hybrids, but hey, they still can get $5,000 back if they buy a fuel cell vehicle.