The tax credit is only available one time per individual right? Would it be possible to get the $2,000 tax deduction for buying a Prius this year AND get the $3,100 tax credit for buying one next year?
I think the 'commitment' is referring to the eligibility of the car for the credit, though the wording is vauge.
The credit is applied to your filing for your 2006 income tax, sometime between 1/1/2007 and 4/15/2007. The credit expires at a fixed time after 60K vehicles have been reached. The time is based on quarters so the dates you have to worry about are 1/1, 4/1, 7/1, and 10/1. If Toyota sells 60K hybrids on 5/10/2006, you have until 9/30/2006 to take delivery before the credit is reduced, as the 'grace quarter' runs from 7/1 to 9/30. I am sure we'll hear all about it when a manufacturer reaches their quota, and then we'll know when the cars need to be purchased.
It is possible that you are the 70000th person who get a Prius and still get FULL tax credit, if your car is purchased in the same quarter as 60000th or the quarter after.
60k is just a trigger to the phase out period. I've asked the same question before and the reply was that once 60k hybrid cars have been sold by a manufacture, phase out period starts, which is the 2nd calendar quarter after that magic number has been reached. Personally, this sounds like a fair rule. Otherwise, how would you prove that you are one of 1st 60k people? And West coast guys would have disadvantage compare to east coast guys since dealerships open 3 or 5 hrs early for people to buy cars in the east.
Look around at about.com. There's an article that tells you the calculation and how the rule is interpreted.
Since I'm no lawyer or accountant, don't sue me if what I mentioned in here is incorrect.