Washington Did you put off getting those new double-pane thermal windows or an energy efficient hot water heater or furnace? From a tax perspective, your procrastination could save you money.
Congress renewed the tax credit for energy improvements to homes, but skipped the 2008 tax year. The credit will reappear in 2009.
However, if you installed a small windmill to generate energy for your home, you may qualify for a credit for up to $4,000 of the cost. Wind-produced energy was added for 2008 to the alternative energy sources under the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.
The credit is for 30 percent of the cost, including labor and materials, up to a maximum of $2,000 for solar or geothermal installations, $4,000 for wind, and $500 for each one-half kilowatt of fuel cell capacity.
The credits are designed to reduce the use of electricity or natural gas. They were added to the economic stimulus act signed by President Bush on Oct. 3.
It’s not just energy efficiency in your home that can save you money on taxes.
You also can still get a maximum tax credit of $3,000 if you buy a hybrid car or light truck. However, with their growing popularity, many of the available credits are smaller, if they’re there at all.
Did you buy a 2008 Toyota Prius last year? No rebate there. The credit begins phasing out after the manufacturer sells 60,000 qualifying vehicles.
You’ll have better luck if you bought a 2008 Honda Civic hybrid. If you made the purchase during the first half of 2008, you could be eligible for a $1,050 credit. That is cut in half if the car was bought from July through December.
If you bought a two-wheel-drive hybrid Ford Escape any time during the year, you may be entitled to the full credit of $3,000.
The credit is only available to original owners of the vehicles. If you lease the car, your leasing agency can claim it.
For 2009, Congress has added a tax credit for plug-in electric cars, up to $7,500. Like the hybrid vehicle credit, these begin phasing out, but only after 250,000 vehicles are sold.