Georgia Replaces Electric Car Tax Credits With Luxury Car Tax Break for Mercedes-Benz Employees

For the past few years, the state of Georgia has been home to some of the highest numbers of electric vehicle sales of any U.S. state, thanks in part to the hard work of enthusiastic electric car advocates and sales people as well as a generous $5,000 state tax credit for anyone buying a 100 percent electric car.

For almost as long, the legislation which allowed that tax credit has been under attack, with most attempts failing on the state House or Senate floor long before they made it onto the books. But as we covered last week, one bill — House HB170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 — made it through the legislature and into law, meaning tax breaks for electric car owners will officially end on July 1 and all electric car owners will now have to pay a $200 per-year registration fee instead.

"GeorgiaCapitolBuilding" by w:en:User:Autiger - w:en:Image:GeorgiaCapitolBuilding.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“GeorgiaCapitolBuilding” by w:en:User:Autiger – w:en:Image:GeorgiaCapitolBuilding.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

For plug-in owners in Georgia, that transition from tax credit to registration fee is bad enough, but as the Associated Press (via GreenCarReports) detail, the bill to end electric car tax credits wasn’t the only car-related tax change going on in the Peach State last week.

Just as the Georgian legislature was ending tax credits for clean, green cars, it was approving a last-minute tax credit for employees of Mercedes-Benz, exempting employees of the German automaker from paying standard state car taxes on cars leased through the company.

Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz relocated its entire U.S. operational headquarters from its home of more than 40 years in New Jersey to Atlanta Georgia. At the time, more than $23 million in economic incentives were believed to have been offered to Mercedes-Benz by the state in order to facilitate that massive move, which included moving more than 800 white-collar jobs en-masse from New Jersey to Georgia.

No electric car incentives, but Mercedes-Benz employees will get a special perk thanks to a last- minute bill.

No electric car incentives, but Mercedes-Benz employees will get a special perk thanks to a last- minute bill.

The new last-minute tax-break for Mercedes-Benz and its employees — rushed through the house late on Friday evening — recorded a vote of 32-22 in favour. If signed into law by state Governor Nathan Deal, it will cost the state of Georgia an estimated $1.3 million annually.

Under the bill, Mercedes-Benz — and any other automaker who happens to move its headquarters to the state — will be able to pay a small administrative fee to cover the licensing of vehicles leased by Mercedes-Benz to its employees instead of the usual registration fees incurred for private customers. Instead of traditional private license plates, employees of Mercedes-Benz would be given special ‘manufacture’ plates to drive on, a practice already common in other states which are already home to major automakers.

Do you think the state of Georgia is right to end plug-in car subsidies? Is it right to give an automaker like Mercedes-Benz a perk on its own corporate taxes?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • D. Harrower

    And people like to whine about how Tesla got incentives to build their Gigafactory in Nevada. Tesla’s incentives are conditional on benefits provided back to the state. Somehow, I don’t think any such conditions exist for Mercedes…

  • TurnOverANewLeaf

    A few articles indicate that the credits for electric vehicles released $50million in taxes. The $200 registration fee is due to claw back a few million. Given those numbers, ending the ev credit would cover the concession to Mercedes so in general the numbers seem fine.nBetween the federal and state incentives and depending on where you worked, leasing a Nissan Leaf was (is… until June) practically free. So it’s not unreasonable to pull this back and account for the lack of gasoline tax revenue to maintain roads.