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California Rejects Owner's EV Rebate Application For Filing A Day Early

Image: Uncredited/GDAPHOTO (AP)
Image: Uncredited/GDAPHOTO (AP)

EV sales have been huge in California. In addition to the federal EV rebate, there are numerous rebates at both the state and local level that buyers can qualify for. Unfortunately, the demand for these rebates is so great that these programs often run out of funds, leaving would be applicants in the dust. And sometimes that demand can cause some applicants to get outright rejected even when they did everything right, as one Bay Area EV owner found out.

San Francisco’s ABC 7 reported on the ordeal of Johnathan Seminoff. Seminoff wanted to purchase a Tesla Model 3. He also wanted to use a $7,500 rebate from California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Seminoff thought he had everything squared away, as he described to ABC 7: “We live in the right area, we have the right income, as long as we purchased the vehicle, filled out the application, submitted it to the Clean Air Vehicle Program... 99.9 percent sure we would qualify.”

Unlike the federal rebate, the state program allows buyers to purchase their EVs, then file some paperwork to get a check in the mail after the purchase is squared away. That’s what Seminoff did in the summer of 2023. He purchased his Model 3 and immediately submitted his application for the rebate.

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Around the same time, though, state officials were warning people that the program was running low on funds due to high demand. Seminoff mentions that there was a lot of “paperwork required... access to our W2s, tax records, lending agreement,” in applying for the rebate.

As far as he was concerned, he did everything right, and he submitted all of his documents. Then came the waiting game. Weeks turned into months, and the program eventually ran out of funds. Seminoff says he assumed his application was just being processed. Then came an email in January.