Should California sales tax be charged to a vehicle lessee (at inception of lease) on the portion of the capitalized cost reduction that is 'paid for' by a federal rebate?

Background: certain electric vehicles are eligible for a $7500 federal 'rebate'. If vehicle is leased, then that payment goes from the government to the lessor. It is often (but not always) applied in the lease calculation as a 'capitalized cost reduction', thereby reducing the amount of 'deprecation' charges that the lessee pays. In contracts I have seen posted on the web, it seems that often California sales tax is charged on that $7500, paid as a lump sum by the lessee at the start of the lease.

The the California Board of Equalization says that sales tax must be paid on the 'fair rental value' and that:

Fair rental value includes any capitalized cost reduction payment, which is a one-time payment by the lessee at the start of the lease to reduce the lessor's investment and the lessee's rentals.


One interpretation would be that sales tax only applies to portions of the capital cost reduction that are payment by the lessee, and that amounts not paid by the lessee are not subject to the tax.

For context: a down-payment is a form of captial cost reduction, is paid by the lessee, does customarily have sales tax applied in CA, and that is all in accordance with the rule quoted above, as I see it.

This question is specifically about whether the tax should be collected, not whether it customarily is.

  • Do you have an example of one of these contracts that specifically indicates sales tax on the tax credit? – quid Apr 17 '17 at 18:52
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    I think this is a good example: us.v-cdn.net/5021145/uploads/editor/dx/tljhaulm2rlt.jpg The 'Cap Reduct Tax' of 675 is 9% (a common CA sales tax) of the 7500 (listed as a Rebate bottom left) See more here: google.com/… – tom Apr 17 '17 at 23:06
  • @quid did that example help? need any other info? – tom Apr 20 '17 at 3:55
  • it does help but unfortunately I don't have an answer or anything valuable to add. I'm pretty surprised sales tax is charged on the value of the tax credit. It seems kind of counteractive. – quid Apr 20 '17 at 17:28
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    I'm similarly surprised. Hoping someone can shed some light on whether it's correct to do so. – tom Apr 20 '17 at 23:59

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