The April 15 deadline for filing 2005 taxes is just around the corner, but it’s not too early for consumers to begin planning ways to reduce their 2006 federal and state tax bills – and make a strong environmental statement at the same time – by purchasing a Ford Escape or Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Using Ford Motor Company’s new hybrid tax hotline, Ford and Mercury dealers can easily spell out the federal, state, and local government tax incentives available to the company’s hybrid customers, which can range from $1,950 to as much as $6,350 depending on where they live. These are in addition to other perks available to hybrid drivers, which can include HOV lane access, free parking and insurance discounts.

“It’s easy to show consumers how hybrids save them money at the pump. Now it’s easy to show them how much they can save at tax time too,” said Al Giombetti, president, Ford and Lincoln Mercury marketing and sales.

Hybrid vehicles like the Escape Hybrid and the Mariner Hybrid – the most fuel-efficient SUVs on earth – deliver real-world benefits both in terms of money saved at the gas pump and reducing air pollution. Because reduced emissions benefit the greater community, government bodies are introducing a myriad of incentives that reward owners of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV).

Buyers who purchase a four-wheel drive Escape Hybrid or Mariner Hybrid after January 1, 2006 are eligible for a $1,950 tax credit from the federal government, while front-wheel drive buyers are eligible for $2,600 federal tax credit. Hybrids purchased in 2005 qualify for a lesser federal tax deduction.

In addition, 35 states have introduced or approved tax incentive programs for hybrid drivers, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Also, 11 states have introduced or approved legislation allowing hybrid drivers access to high-occupancy carpool lanes. Municipal incentives range from waived registration fees and inspection exemptions, and even free city parking.

According to the dealer hotline statistics, the top places to own an Escape Hybrid or Mariner Hybrid currently are:

  • West Virginia, where the $1,950 – $2,600 federal tax credit and $3,750 West Virginia Alternative Fuel Motor Vehicles Tax Credit combine to total between $5,700 and $6,350 in tax relief.
  • Colorado, where the $1,950 – $2,600 federal tax credit is supplemented by the Colorado Alternative Fuel Vehicle tax credit, for a total of $4,806 to $5,358 in tax relief. In addition, the city of Aspen offers a $100 license registration discount, and free municipal parking.
  • Oregon and Louisiana (tie), where the $1,950 – $2,600 federal tax credit is supplemented by $1500 in tax relief from either the Louisiana Alternative Fuel for Motor Vehicles tax credit or the Oregon Residential Tax Credit, for a total of $3,450 to $4,100 in government incentives.

In these states, tax incentives more than offset the higher MSRP (approximately $3,500) of an Escape Hybrid or Mariner Hybrid over its gasoline-powered counterpart.

The hotline will be continually updated with information sourced from both government and government-support agencies. Consumers looking for more information on incentives in their area are encouraged to contact their local Ford or Mercury dealers. In addition, consumers are advised to confirm processes and eligible redemption amounts with a tax advisor, or the IRS.

The Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid are compact SUVs that blend the best features of a gasoline engine and an electric motor. As a result, they deliver almost 80 percent higher city driving efficiency than their V-6 counterparts, with no loss of performance or functionality.

The hybrids meet the cleanest emission rating achievable by a fossil-fuel vehicle: Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions (AT-PZEV) in California and states adopting California emissions standards. Ford Motor Company has more than 150 patents from technological innovations developed for its hybrid program.

The Escape Hybrid earned the coveted 2005 North American Truck of the Year award, and was named the 2006 Top SUV under $30,000 by AAA. The Mercury Mariner Hybrid was named the first-ever “2006 Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal.

By 2008, Ford will have five hybrids on the road, including the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Mazda Tribute. By 2010, Ford plans to increase its global hybrid production to approximately 250,000 hybrid units annually.

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