Dear Sun Spots: Earlier this year, I heard that a program was started to stimulate the economy here in Maine. It involved a purchase of any automobile, new or used. The Maine sales tax as well as the town excise would not apply. As I understood it, the program would run through Nov. 1, 2009.

This past month, I am aware of three people who purchased used automobiles and paid a Maine sales tax as well as a town excise tax. I phoned two reputable car dealers and they thought the program was in effect, but could not furnish details.

If there is such a program, it would now appear to me that the money paid on sales taxes and excise taxes would be refunded in the form of a credit against taxes due at year end.

Please be so kind as to use your resources to find out if I am correct. If I am correct, how would someone obtain a refund? — Gene Gilbert, Lewiston

Answer: There is such a program, and you are correct about the tax refund. However, the tax break is for the purchase of new automobiles only.

The program is part of a car-buying consumer stimulus program tucked into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new cars must be purchased between Feb. 16, 2009 and Jan. 1, 2010.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, buyers will be able to claim their excise tax as a deduction on the short form on next year’s taxes. That deduction had previously been limited to people who itemize. In addition, instead of claiming either the state and local sales tax deduction or the standard income tax deduction on the federal form, for this one year filers can claim the income tax deduction and take a deduction for the sales tax on a new auto.

The tax breaks apply to new cars, light trucks, motor homes and motorcycles that cost up to $49,500. The incentive is limited to people who make less than $125,000, and couples who earn less than $250,000.

Savings will vary by the buyer’s income and price of the auto, but, for instance, a single person earning $60,000 a year who buys a $20,000 car might get a $250 tax break next year from the saved sales tax.

So, unfortunately, the three people you know who recently purchased used vehicles do not qualify for this tax break because they didn’t buy new cars.

Dear Sun Spots: I am looking for a couple who purchased a canopy set on Saturday, July 11, at Hickory Drive in Auburn. Unfortunately, they were given the wrong top to the set. I have the canopy and would like the people to bring back the covering they were given. I would like to give them the correct canopy.

Thank you. — Barbara Hardison, Auburn

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to [email protected]


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