Panel OKs extending hybrid tax credit


DENVER – A tax credit for hybrid vehicles would be extended until 2011 under legislation that advanced Wednesday in a House committee.

Members of the House Transportation and Energy Committee voted 9- 0 to approve House Bill 1290, which extends nearly $1 million a year in tax credits for owners of the lowing vehicles.

The measure now goes to the House Finance Committee.

Most hybrids, such as the popular Toyota Prius, run on a combination of gas and electric power. The car seamlessly switches between the two propulsion systems.

“They do typically get better gas mileage, but in addition they have lower emissions,” said Susan LeFever, director of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club. “You get both benefits at the same time.”

Hybrid vehicles are more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, a gas-powered Honda Accord – well appointed – costs about $23,800.

A similarly equipped Honda Accord Hybrid rings up at $32,140, a more than $8,300 difference.

“There is a significant price differential between a standard gasoline model and a hybrid vehicle,” said Tim Jackson of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association. “This (tax credit) does make up for that.”

During the 2003-04 tax year, about $99,000 in alternative fuel tax credits went to 738 taxpayers. But the tax was set to phase out in 2009.

Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Louisville, contends the market for hybrid vehicles needs assistance beyond that point, at least until the price of hybrids comes down. He would extend the credit until 2011.

“I know a lot of people who are on waiting lists,” Pommer said. “They have told me that it is a little pricey, but with the tax credit it makes sense. This (tax credit) is to give the industry a chance to get started and then phase out.”

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