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Thread: tax kick-back

  1. #1
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    tax kick-back

    i've been commuting with my bike since last august, and only driving to do laundry and groceries...

    wouldn't it be cool that we could get some kind of kick back from the government for helping out with energy saving, lowering pollution, causing less traffic, low insurance costs, etc

    i bet a lot more people would start riding bikes again

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    I'd like to think they would, but I doubt it.

    People will do almost anything to avoid work.

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    It would be nice, but there's no way to trace if they're really doing it or not. Then some fool gets caught and ruins it for the rest of us.

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by twochins
    wouldn't it be cool that we could get some kind of kick back from the government for helping out with energy saving, lowering pollution, causing less traffic, low insurance costs, etc

    i bet a lot more people would start riding bikes again
    Well you are already getting a quite a tax break by not having to buy so much fuel. The local, state and federal taxes on a gallon of gasoline add up to quite a bit.

    For a more direct subsidy write your local congressman in support of:
    H.R. 1265, The Bicycle Commuter Act

    [EDIT] I think it may now be known as HR 807 [/EDIT]


    The Bicycle Commuter Act would allow
    an employer to offer a monthly cash
    reimbursement to an employee who
    commutes to work by bicycle, providing
    a tax benefit to the employer and
    helping defray commuting expenses for
    the bicyclist.
    http://www.bikeleague.org/educenter/hr1265.pdf
    Last edited by Slow Train; 03-04-06 at 01:46 PM.

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    Here are the current cosponsors of HR 807.

    If your local representative isn't on this list - ask them why not?

    P.S. - dates are the date of their sponsorship.

    Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Barrow, John [GA-12] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Case, Ed [HI-2] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 5/10/2005
    Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Ford, Harold E., Jr. [TN-9] - 3/2/2006
    Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 10/6/2005
    Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Hooley, Darlene [OR-5] - 3/2/2006
    Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 5/3/2005
    Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 4/26/2005
    Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 5/3/2005
    Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 5/3/2005
    Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 2/15/2005
    Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 4/26/2005
    Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] - 4/26/2005
    Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Sabo, Martin Olav [MN-5] - 4/8/2005
    Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Snyder, Vic [AR-2] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] - 2/15/2005
    Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 4/8/2005

  6. #6
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Gee, I've wondered the same thing; the wealthy guy down the street w a hybrid gets a tax credit, and the small business owner's wife gets to write off the depreciation on her H2 as a "commercial vehicle." And I don't get jack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    Well you are already getting a quite a tax break by not having to buy so much fuel. The local, state and federal taxes on a gallon of gasoline add up to quite a bit.




    That really makes no sense.

    If that is so, why do people with hybrids get to write off half the price of the cost of their hybrids, while when we buy bikes, we get zero write off?

    If they can write it off, so should we.

    Koffee

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    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    If that is so, why do people with hybrids get to write off half the price of the cost of their hybrids, while when we buy bikes, we get zero write off?
    And why do owners of 30 MPG hybrids get a tax break, whereas 40 MPG with conventional technology gets none?

    And why do people who drive 50 miles to work (I know several) and buy a hybrid get a tax break, whereas those who drive 2 miles to work get none?

    Makes you think they might not actually know what they're doing in DC...

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    Vanned. worker4youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    That really makes no sense.

    If that is so, why do people with hybrids get to write off half the price of the cost of their hybrids, while when we buy bikes, we get zero write off?

    If they can write it off, so should we.

    Koffee
    Because, 90% of people buy bikes for recreation. There is a pretty good guarantee that people buying hybrids will use them to commute to work, etc. There is no such guarantee when people buy bikes.

    Maybe if they put other restrictions, such as "buying a bike, and not having a drivers license", it would work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by worker4youth
    Because, 90% of people buy bikes for recreation. There is a pretty good guarantee that people buying hybrids will use them to commute to work, etc. There is no such guarantee when people buy bikes.

    Maybe if they put other restrictions, such as "buying a bike, and not having a drivers license", it would work.
    So 90% of people buy hybrids for commuting to work? Maybe. Maybe not. Why do we give the benefit of the doubt to people in cars, but not to people on bikes?

    I already addressed the difficulties of tracking people and how to figure out the useage. Why is that being brought up again?

    What the gov't should do is encourage people to commute- have the employers set up programs that track and reward people who cycle to work. That takes the recreational cyclists out of the picture, though I think even recreational cyclists should be rewarded too- first, recreational cycling is healthy, and it contributes to wellness, and second, even cycling recreationally saves on the earth's resources. So why not give them tax breaks too? It's ok to drive 3 blocks to the park, but not ride three blocks to the park? Why not encourage people to cut out the cars unless doing long distances or big hauls, and just reward people for picking up environmentally safe, healthy commuting lifestyles on their bikes?

    Koffee

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    Vanned. worker4youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    So 90% of people buy hybrids for commuting to work? Maybe. Maybe not. Why do we give the benefit of the doubt to people in cars, but not to people on bikes?
    Because it's reality. I am not saying I like it or agree with it, but yes, 90% (completely made up) of bikes, I see are on Saturday mornings on the bike paths by people doing a 10 mile loop to "get in shape", the mountain biker on the trails every Sunday afternoon, and the roadie doing their club ride/training ride on the weekends. There is not much utility in such a use of the bike, and these same people would get in their cars every weekday.

    90% of cars (made up statistics again), on the other hand, are used completely for utilitarian use, and hybrids value utility over comfort/luxury. You hardly ever see any cars used for "just the weekends" for recreation.

    Presumably, the government is giving this tax break because of the utilitarian use of the hybrid car as opposed to a conventional car.

  12. #12
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    And this is where the government should step in- if they offered the tax break for cyclists and took away the tax break for hybrids, and gave some kind of financial incentive, then bike useage would go up. If they involved employers at the workplace, then employers would encourage more bike use, and bike use would go up. But the gov't takes the low road, which is easier, and they give the automatic tax break to the hybrids without thought as to what they could do to 1) ease congestion on the roads and 2) increase the fitness and health of people with bicycling.

    Koffee

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    Vanned. worker4youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    And this is where the government should step in- if they offered the tax break for cyclists and took away the tax break for hybrids, and gave some kind of financial incentive, then bike useage would go up. If they involved employers at the workplace, then employers would encourage more bike use, and bike use would go up. But the gov't takes the low road, which is easier, and they give the automatic tax break to the hybrids without thought as to what they could do to 1) ease congestion on the roads and 2) increase the fitness and health of people with bicycling.

    Koffee
    I doubt such a tax break would really work by itself. Americans are not yet ready to give up their cars. Here's why:

    - If they're willing to buy a BMW over a Honda Accord, and pay the several tens of thousands of dollars, simply for the name, more gas guzzle, and leather heated seats, a few hundred or thousand dollars in tax breaks would mean very little to them.
    - They're willing to spend $50 each time at the pump to drive 3 miles to work, over walking, public transit, or bike. That alone would be several hundred (if not thousands) dollar savings each year.
    - The infrastructure for getting more people on bikes doesn't exist in most American cities. When I ask people why they don't use their bikes more often for other reasons than training, racing, or recreation, safety is the #1 concern.
    - The convenience of the automobile is still really hard to beat. Sure, our city streets are gridlocked, and parking costs are skyrocketing, but to the average consumer, they are willing to pay the extra $ to get to somewhere quicker and more effortless. For instance, my commute from work to school every tuesday/thursday night on bike takes me 1.25 hours to do 16 miles. By car, even in rush hour traffic in LA, it would take 30-45 minutes.

    So herein lies the many problems in our society. A tax break would be a good step, but I doubt it would enough to get people out of their cars. Several factors must come into play.

  14. #14
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    They're excuses. Thinking and behavior doesn't change overnight, but if the government and employers work together to encourage change, it would happen over the long run. We have to start looking to other alternatives anyway, since it's clear our current reserves won't hold up to 20- 30 years from now at the current rate we're going. And since the USA uses up the majority of the earth's resources without regard to the future, it would and should be a major undertaking and commitment by the establishment. By not encouraging such types of changes by the people, we're just going to continue on our current course, and in 20 years, when either oil goes to 500 bucks a barrel or we run out of oil, who knows where we'll be.

    I do agree- several factors must come into play, but this is definitely one of those factors. There should be NO tax breaks or rewards for people who drive any type of motorized vehicle, and there should be every tax break given to those who use alternative, non-motorized transportation.

    Koffee

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    Well I think by not driving we already are avoiding a tax that our automobile disposed brethen have to endure - whether it is a hybrid or a Hummer. Buying and operating any car already exposes one to much higher taxation than buying and riding a bike. May it always remain so.

    One could argue that the good of biking itself should be enough reward.

    Koffee - if the irrationality of our tax laws upset you don't read further:

    The transportation fringe benefit was
    added to the tax code as part of TEA-21
    as an incentive to get more people to
    use alternative modes of transportation
    for commuting. The goal was to reduce
    traffic congestion, pollution and wear
    and tear on the roads.

    Under current law, an employer can
    offer an employee up to $100 a month
    for mass transit (subway, bus, train,
    van-pool, etc.) and up to $185 per
    month for parking
    , which is tax-free
    Anybody else suffering from dizziness here? On one hand the purpose of this is to promote use of mass transit and save the roads, environment, etc. Yet so the poor driver doesn't feel left out it also provides help for his parking problem. So would you rather use $100 tax-free to wait for and then ride a smelly crowded bus to work OR get $185 to continue driving your car right to your reserved spot?

    As bike commuters we are getting discriminated against by this tax legislation. That is why I, again, urge all of you to contact your representatives. I would do so likewise but, as I live in DC, I don't get a say in such matters.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    A tax break on bikes would be nice for us, but I don't think it would do a lot to increase ridership. And it would do almost nothing to discourage the use of cars, IMO. Obviously it would also leave people who walk to work, SOL, along wih people who take a bus.

    I would much rather see significant increases in taxes on car users.

    I would want to see first, a huge graduated tax on autos and light trucks based on their gas mileage. Efficient cars should be taxed lightly, while gas guzzlers should be taxed to the tune of many thousands of dollars. The revenues should be used to implement alternative transport methods such as cycling, walking and public transport.

    Secon, the tax on gas should be gradually raised until gas prices reflect the true cost of usage. Revenues from this tax shoul be usd mainly for pollution reduction and cleanup, and research dollars for cleaner forms of energy.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    I would want to see first, a huge graduated tax on autos and light trucks based on their gas mileage. Efficient cars should be taxed lightly, while gas guzzlers should be taxed to the tune of many thousands of dollars.
    At one time we had CAFE standards that forced the automobile companies to promote smaller, more efficient cars. But when was that standard last raised - 1980 something? Then we let Detroit make millions of SUV's which, through a loophole conveniently provided, were considered "work" vehicles and didn't have comply with CAFE.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Secon, the tax on gas should be gradually raised until gas prices reflect the true cost of usage. Revenues from this tax shoul be usd mainly for pollution reduction and cleanup, and research dollars for cleaner forms of energy.
    A significant increase in the Federal gasoline tax is unlikely. Every sparsely populated western state still has 2 senators and their constituents, who annually drive many more miles than someone on the east coast, aren't going to be favorably disposed.

    To quote Bob Dole:

    Don't tax me, don't tax you - tax that fellow behind the tree!

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    A significant increase in the Federal gasoline tax is unlikely. Every sparsely populated western state still has 2 senators and their constituents, who annually drive many more miles than someone on the east coast, aren't going to be favorably disposed.
    And you can add our two senators from Michigan to that crowd!

    I guess i was talking aout what I think would work, not what I think is politically feasible.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I think the quickest way to subsidize bicycling is to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel while lowering other taxes. Other solutions would be quite difficult to implement. One could also add an automobile sales tax and subsidies to bicycle sales and repair. (Maybe a reverse sales tax- bike shop charges $10 for something, you pay them $9 and the government pays the rest.)
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    why do people with hybrids get to write off half the price of the cost of their hybrids
    Huh? My family only got a one time $2000 income deduction for the purchase of a Prius in Oct. 2004. The in pocket benefit of a deduction is a fraction of that and does not come close to makng up for the extra cost I paid over a non hybrid vehicle of similar type. We get no other benefits.

    The current lifetime mpg of this Prius is 49.8 for over 15k miles of use.

    Al

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Huh? My family only got a one time $2000 income deduction for the purchase of a Prius in Oct. 2004. The in pocket benefit of a deduction is a fraction of that and does not come close to makng up for the extra cost I paid over a non hybrid vehicle of similar type. We get no other benefits.

    The current lifetime mpg of this Prius is 49.8 for over 15k miles of use.

    Al
    Do people also get the writeoff for the hybrid SUVs and hybrid performance cars that get like 20 mpg or less?

    I don't know much about cars, but I read that many hybrids are "bred" for higher performance rather than better mileage. Is this true?


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  22. #22
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Do people also get the writeoff for the hybrid SUVs and hybrid performance cars that get like 20 mpg or less?

    I don't know much about cars, but I read that many hybrids are "bred" for higher performance rather than better mileage. Is this true?
    1. It doesn't appear so, but a deeper look is needed. Certainly the sub 20mpg hybrid trucks don't qualify and not all hybrid vehicles get the same $ benefit.
    2. This is sadly true, early generation hybrids were about economy, the more recent generation is about performance and/or minimal improvement in economy.

    Check here for info on the tax benefits as well as which vehicles qualify:
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml

    Also from this page you can find info on the mpg of all current hybrids
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybrid_sbs.shtml

    Al

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    ^^^ absolutely, car mileage peaked like 20-30 years ago, ever since the size and power of american vehicles has increased while maintaining roughly the same mileage averages

    The Prius is a prime example, its a fairly large car for a "small" car........properly designed and shrunk a bit and you might get into the mid 50mpg-60mpg range using hybrid tech in it. But here's the rub, it can be done w/o hybrid as well, and cheaper. The payback crossover for the hybrid vs standard drivetrain is way beyond the useful lifecycle of the vehicle. What it does do quite well is add a fair amount of power where it counts--accelerating from slow speeds and recovering braking power while getting better mileage than its normal drivetrain counterpart. The manufacturing costs material wise is substantially bigger too. I pray nobody ever starts pumping milions of these things onto the streets.

    Bottom line, like power on a bike, there are no shortcuts, you must deal with physics. Better mileage means less mass and lower speeds, anything else is an effort to use efficiency w/o sacrificng the primary factors that determine how much it takes to move the vehicle down the road. Fuel injection has prettymuch cured fuel delivery problems, its a mature tech, so is automatic transmission design and most other car systems. Basic engine design still remains the same, just tweaked a bit, but even after 100 years of experiments it still remains only about 15-20% efficient. Could car makers make much higher mileage cars, sure, quite easily. Public doesnt want them, YET.......wait till december 2006 when fuel is about $4.50/gallon.

  24. #24
    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    But when was that standard last raised - 1980 something?
    I believe it was modified this year, but not really for the better. It's 'different' with more categories than just car and truck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    Then we let Detroit make millions of SUV's which, through a loophole conveniently provided, were considered "work" vehicles and didn't have comply with CAFE.
    The only exemption provided is for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 8500 lbs, if memory serves. Things like the F-150, Chevy 1500, TrailBlazer, Explorer, etcetera, don't qualify.

    The only good solution is to increase the gas tax. Couple it with a decrease in payroll tax such that it's a net tax decrease.

    ElJamoquio

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    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Do people also get the writeoff for the hybrid SUVs and hybrid performance cars that get like 20 mpg or less?

    I don't know much about cars, but I read that many hybrids are "bred" for higher performance rather than better mileage. Is this true?

    Note the Hybrid Honda Accord. It gets about 10 mpg better than the normal Accord. Of that, 6.5 mpg was based on conventional technology - basically, cylinder deactivation. That type of technology costs about $300-$500 per vehicle, rather than the $3000-$5000 per vehicle the 3.5 mpg the 'hybridization' of the vehicle returned.

    Would the world be better off with one hybrid vehicle getting 10 mpg better, or ten vehicles, getting 6.5 mpg better? Should we be subsidizing hybrids?

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