Since the US Treasury Department came forward with its official guidance and rules related to the newly revamped US federal EV tax credit, there are very few options that qualify. However, as we previously reported, Hyundai is taking advantage of a loophole that has worked for a few other brands, and now it seems Tesla Model 3 customers may be able to benefit as well.
In short, the US Treasury has issued strict guidelines for the EV tax credit related to domestic manufacturing and materials sourcing. Aside from the fact that the electric car itself must be made locally, the same is true of the battery, as well as where the battery cell materials come from. Since most EVs currently on sale in the US can't satisfy all the requirements, they'll either be ineligible for the credit entirely, or perhaps only get a portion.
According to Teslarati, only six, arguably seven, EVs in the US are currently eligible for the full $7,500 US EV tax credit. Moreover, they may only qualify in certain trims or configurations. The list is as follows: Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, and Volkswagen ID.4.
We've already learned that the cheapest Model 3, the single-motor rear-wheel-drive "Standard Range" version, doesn't qualify for the whole credit. In fact, Tesla warned customers ahead of the US Treasury's official announcement. However, if you're okay with leasing it, you may be able to get the full $7,500, and you won't have to wait until tax time to see the benefit.
A loophole in the rules makes it so that some forms of leasing aren't hindered by all of the strict rules. If you buy a new base Model 3, you'll pay at least $39,990 plus taxes and fees. This option would make the car eligible for a tax credit of $3,750, but, based on your individual tax situation, you may or may not be able to get the credit. If you get a credit, it won't come until you file your taxes, so you have to pay in full at the time of purchase.
Leasing a new base Model 3 allows the leasing company to get the full $7,500 credit, which it can then apply to the lease to benefit the customer. Tesla's website currently shows that leasing the cheapest Model 3 is estimated at $419 per month with $4,500 down. However, it also shows that with potential incentives, the payment would be more like $350.
Keep in mind, Tesla doesn't allow lessees to keep their Model 3 after the lease expires, so you'll have to return it. Sure, the tax credit loophole may bring your payment down, which could get you into an electric car and help your monthly budget. However, the money isn't being applied to the sticker price of a car you'll eventually be able to own.