Grab the Tax Deduction on Your 2009 Motorcycle

Those Who Purchase New Motorcycles and Scooters will Save in 2009.

Vehicles eligible for the motorcycle tax deduction added to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are likely to include on-road and dual-sport motorcycles, as well as motorscooters and mopeds, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). The tax deduction — first reported by the AMA on Feb. 14 — was added at the eleventh hour to the landmark $787 billion stimulus package that President Barack Obama signed into law on Feb. 17.

"While we are awaiting final language from the Treasury Department, we believe that many motorcycles and scooters will qualify," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "We have AMA members to thank, because they responded to our appeal to contact their legislators to make sure that motorcycles were part of this inclusive and equitable solution."

Moreland added that the efforts of Harley-Davidson, together with AMA, were instrumental in obtaining the same tax deduction that was provided in the stimulus plan for automobile, light truck and RV purchasers. The law also includes a 10 percent tax credit up to $2,500 for street-legal electric motorcycles purchased by December 2011.

Read: More About Electric Motorcycles

The sales and excise tax deduction applies to motorcycles purchased between Feb. 17 and Dec. 31, 2009, with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) less than an 8,500 lbs., and costing less than $49,500. Individuals can take the deduction if they make less than $125,000, or $250,000 for joint filers. The deduction is phased out for taxpayers with income between $125,000 and $135,000 ($250,000 to $260,000 for a joint return). Individuals do not have to itemize to claim the deduction.

What qualifies as a motorcycle in the economic stimulus law? According to section 571.3 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), a motorcycle is defined under federal law as "a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground." In addition, a "motor-driven cycle means a motorcycle with a motor that produces 5 brake horsepower or less."

To illustrate the impact of the tax deduction, consider the case of a new motorcycle purchase of $10,500. For a 7.5 percent sales tax rate, the tax would be $787.50. To take advantage of the new law, purchasers would include that amount on their 2009 federal income tax return, meaning that their taxable income would be reduced by that amount before taxes are calculated. States set their own sales tax rates, so the actual amount of savings will depend on the taxpayer’s state and tax rate.

"This victory indicates that our legislators are starting to recognize how motorcycles reduce traffic congestion, provide efficient use of limited parking, lessen the impact on our roads and bridges and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Moreland.

Moreland added that the AMA would provide additional details of the tax deduction as soon as the Treasury Department issues its final rules. Among the questions to be answered are what model-year products are covered, including yet-to-be-released 2010 models; whether or not all unsold, new models are included, regardless of year; and whether or not off-road motorcycles are included.


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