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Filing Tax Form 8936: Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit

Written by Riley Adams, CPA • Reviewed by Miguel Burgos, CPAUpdated for Tax Year 2023 • January 30, 2024 12:33 PM
OVERVIEW

If you purchased a qualifying vehicle and are looking to claim the Qualified Plug-In Electric Motor Vehicle Credit or Clean Vehicle Credit, you’ll use Form 8936 with your tax return.

Electric car charging

Key Takeaways

  • Use Form 8936 to claim either the Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit or the new Clean Vehicle Credit.
  • The Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit and the new Clean Vehicle Credit are each worth up to $7,500.
  • The Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit has been replaced with the Clean Vehicle Credit for qualifying vehicles purchased after December 31, 2022.
  • The credit for personal vehicles is non-refundable and any excess value can’t be claimed on future tax returns. However, if you’re claiming the credit as a depreciable business asset, you can carry forward any unused portion as a general business credit.

What are the Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit and the Clean Vehicle Credit?

The Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit is a tax credit available for certain new, plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) placed in service before 2023. Namely, the credit is worth up to $7,500 under Internal Revenue Code Section 30D.

The credit equals:

  • $2,917 for an electric vehicle with a battery capacity of at least 5 kilowatt hours (kWh), plus
  • $417 for each kWh of capacity over 5 kWh, up to $7,500 in combined value.

The credit isn’t refundable if you’re claiming it as an individual, so you won’t be able to get back any credit value in excess of the taxes you owe. Further, you can’t apply any excess credit value to future tax years, meaning you can only claim the full $7,500 value in one year or forfeit the unused balance. If you’re claiming the credit as a business, any excess credit value not used in the year of acquisition can be carried forward to future years.

The credit, available to both individuals and businesses, is only eligible for vehicles you buy for your own use (not for resale) and are used primarily in the United States.

The credit only applies to qualifying vehicles, meaning they have to:

  • Have an external charging source
  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds (found on the vehicle’s window sticker at the time of sale)
  • Be made by a manufacturer that hasn’t sold more than 200,000 EVs in the US

Because of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the credit is replaced by the Clean Vehicle Credit for vehicles purchased after 2022. Further, certain final assembly requirements were added for vehicles purchased after August 16, 2022. That means if you bought and took delivery of a qualified electric vehicle beginning August 17, 2022 through December 31, 2022, the same rules applied but the vehicle needed to undergo final assembly in North America. The Department of Energy maintains a database for you to assess whether your model meets these assembly requirements.

You can confirm the assembly location for your specific vehicle using the VIN Decoder tool and check a list of qualifying Model Year 2022 and early Model Year 2023 EVs.


 

TurboTax Tip:

Some electric vehicles are assembled in multiple locations. Check both sets of details on the Department of Energy site for your specific vehicle.

 

Lastly, if you entered into a written binding contract to buy a qualifying vehicle beginning January 1, 2021, and before August 16, 2022, but took delivery on or after August 16, 2022, you may elect to claim the credit based on the rules prior to changes made by the Inflation Reduction Act. If you choose to use these prior rules on your 2022 tax return, you will need to claim it on that tax return after you take delivery of the vehicle. Depending on when you took delivery of the vehicle, you can claim the credit on your original, superseding, or amended 2022 tax return.

What is Form 8936?

Form 8936 is the official IRS form used to claim the Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit or the new Clean Vehicle Credit. If you purchased a qualifying plug-in EV or clean vehicle during the required timeframes (either after December 31, 2009, through December 31, 2022, or January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2032), you can claim the respective credit by filling out Form 8936 and attaching it to your Form 1040 when you file your tax return.

Who can file Form 8936?

Depending on the vehicle you purchased, you can only claim the credit applicable to your vehicle. You can’t claim both credits on the same vehicle. If you meet the requirements laid out above for claiming the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit, you may file Form 8936 with your tax return to claim the credit. If you purchased a qualifying vehicle after December 31, 2022, you have to meet the requirements before filing Form 8936 to claim the Clean Vehicle Credit:

Income requirements for the Clean Vehicle Credit

The Clean Vehicle Credit comes with income limitations for who can claim it. Eligibility is based on the lesser of your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for the year that the new clean vehicle was placed in service or for the preceding year. The limits are:

  • If your filing status is Married Filing Jointly: Your MAGI can’t exceed $300,000
  • If your filing status is Head of Household: Your MAGI can’t exceed $225,000
  • If your filing status is Single or Married Filing Separately: Your MAGI can’t exceed $150,000

Clean Vehicle Credit price caps

The Clean Vehicle Credit also has price limitations on the vehicle you purchase based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on new EVs as follows: vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks can’t exceed $80,000, while sedans and other vehicle types can’t exceed $55,000.

Requirements for clean vehicles placed in service January 1 to April 17, 2023

For the first part of 2023, the Clean Vehicle Credit has a base amount for qualifying EVs and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), and an additional amount based on the vehicle's battery capacity. Specifically:

  • $2,500 base amount
  • Plus $417 for a vehicle with at least 7 kilowatt hours of battery capacity
  • Plus $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity beyond 5 kilowatt hours
  • Up to $7,500 total

In general, the minimum credit will be $3,751 ($2,500 + 3 times $417), the credit amount for a vehicle with the minimum 7 kilowatt hours of battery capacity.

Requirements for clean vehicles placed in service after April 17, 2023

For clean vehicles placed in service beginning April 18, 2023, the new Clean Vehicle Credit is made up of two requirements that total to $7,500 ($3,750 each) - battery components and critical minerals. You’ll need to meet each requirement to claim each portion of the Clean Vehicle Credit on Form 8936.

Used cars now eligible

Used cars have become eligible for the new Clean Vehicle Credit claimed on Form 8936, under the used Clean Vehicle Credit. The amount is lesser than the Clean Vehicle Credit for new clean vehicles (equal to the lesser of $4,000 or 30% of the sales price), but it still is a new credit that can make purchasing previously-owned clean vehicles more affordable for consumers. The new tax credit for pre-owned clean vehicles lasts for tax years 2023 through 2032.

How to file Form 8936

To file Form 8936 and claim either the Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit for cars purchased prior to January 1, 2023, or the Clean Vehicle Credit for qualifying vehicles purchased afterward, you’ll need to complete the form with the VIN for your electric vehicle. Form 8936 is also used to determine your tax credit value for certain qualified two or three-wheeled plug-in EVs.

In addition to the buyer filing Form 8936, the seller or dealer is required to report to both the buyer and the IRS certain information about the vehicle including:

  • Seller/Dealer name and taxpayer ID number
  • Buyer's name and taxpayer ID number
  • Maximum credit allowable under IRC 30D for new vehicles or IRC 25E for previously owned vehicles
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN), unless the vehicle is not assigned one
  • Battery capacity
  • Date of sale
  • Sale price
  • For new vehicles, verification that the buyer is the original user

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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