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The new federal rebate program formally known as the "Car Allowance Rebate System" (CARS) or more popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers" offers qualified consumers a federal government rebate of either $3,500 or $4,500 on the purchase of a new car as long as the buyer is trading in a used vehicle with a combined fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less.

The Department of Revenue, in Directive 09-5 , has ruled that "provided that the transaction otherwise qualifies, the payment for the vehicle traded-in may be excluded from the sales tax price subject to tax."

The rebate, which the federal government pays to the dealer, becomes in effect the value of the trade-in, which, in turn lowers the purchase price, which, in turn, lowers the amount of sales tax paid for the new vehicle. 

Happy motoring!

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