In late May, the Internal Revenue Service produced interim guidance in the form of Notice 2006-9, describing the new credit for qualified hybrid vehicles. Spawned by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the credit replaces the $2,000 clean-fuel vehicle deduction that was available in previous years.A hybrid vehicle is defined as a vehicle that must have both an internal combustion or heat engine and a rechargeable energy storage system. There are also emission requirements for the vehicles. Only new hybrid vehicles purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2006, qualify for the credit, which is based on a two-pronged system that incorporates calculations based on the weight and the estimated lifetime fuel savings of the vehicle.

The one-time credit ranges from $250 to $3,150 per car. The car must be purchased for personal use or for lease. The IRS notice includes a list showing the specific credit for each vehicle (see "Qualifying Cars," page 16).

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