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Thread: Tax Break?

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    Urban Assault Cyclist DizzyG3's Avatar
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    Tax Break?

    I was looking into my tax situation the other day and was reminded of the tax break for people who bought a hybrid vehicle during the year. Then it occurred to me, "What about those of us who choose to forgo the car altogether?" Surely that's far better than even the best hybrid vehicle could offer. Why don't WE get some sort of tax break? Is it simply because we do less to stimulate the economy through our frugal methods despite doing far more to protect the environment (and oil reserves)? Has anyone else thought of this? If so, what do you think? Has anyone ever written to their senator/representative? I don't suppose I could possibly be the first person to think of this, but I couldn't find any other thread on this (maybe I didn't search enough?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by DizzyG3
    "What about those of us who choose to forgo the car altogether?" Surely that's far better than even the best hybrid vehicle could offer. Why don't WE get some sort of tax break? Is it simply because we do less to stimulate the economy through our frugal methods despite doing far more to protect the environment (and oil reserves)?
    Nope - it is simply that there is no politically powerful constituency for cycling. When you are GM or Exxon politicians listen.

    Quote Originally Posted by DizzyG3
    but I couldn't find any other thread on this (maybe I didn't search enough?).
    There has been some discussion of this in the past. Maybe the DB meltdown buried some of it?
    Here's my ranting from last fall ....
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...93#post3106393

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    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    There was a bill working it's way through the law making process to give bicycle commuters a tax break... Dunno what happened to it. I should try to find it.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

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    yeah, i think about this all the time, and have posted a couple times...people here just say that our tax break is that we simply don't pay for gas...i don't like this answer but it is partly true...i still think there should be some kind of other monetary assistance: one fellow suggested that we be able to write off bicycle necessities such as rear cassatte and chains, tires, etc....i think this would be somehting that could be passed

    the other thing that gets me is that my tax money is paying for the roads which are not built for bikes nor people but for cars, and i don't drive one much....

    about the only thing Bush got right in his entire fiasco has been, "America is addicted to oil."

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    Senior Member heywood's Avatar
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    You know this is really a good idea.

    I think a good percentage of a bike (or parts) should be tax deductable.

    If you commute, you're not polluting.
    You'll probably be less drain on health services in the future.
    You're taking up less road space.

    This should be promoted. Recently here in Toronto the federal government started giving tax breaks to people who buy monthly Toronto Transit passes, there's no reason they can't do the same with a bike or bike parts. As long as you commute (say for example at least 3 months per year) you should be able to write off the cost of 50% of your bike commuting costs. That would get a decent $1,500 commuter bike in the $750 range. It would be a boon for both cyclists and

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    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    I wonder if you could sneak this in under energy efficient home improvements... Anyone wanna test the waters with an IRS shark or million?

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    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Speaking as a fiscal conservative, don't forget that we bike commuters get a huge financial break already just because we do cycle. We pay a tenth or less of what cagers pay per mile to transport ourselves. That's direct cost, not even taking into account health benefits.

    Never, ever, when asked why people don't bike commute do they say "it costs too much". They don't commute because they feel unsafe.

    You guys have to stop trying to harvest cash out of the US Treasury, which is just going to go on the "Federal Credit Card" anyway! Which is more important, funding Medicare or funding your bicycle chain replacement?

    Be happy with your cycling lifestyle and your rich savings, and leave it alone already, OK?
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

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    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Government in the USA spends huge amounts of money on roads, and a sad, tiny amount of money on public transit. I think public transit all over the U.S. should have fares lowered as an incentive to heavier use, and subsequently be set up to run more often and to more places, again to make it easier for people to use it more heavily. For all the conservatives out there as much a "free market" approach as subsidies to agriculture and roads that is, hardly at all) which people justify because agriculture and roads are "essential".

    I would suggest raising gas/diesel fuel taxes until they pay for the costs of roads and maintenance, plus a nice premium for roads' land use and vehicles' carbon emissions................ but that's not as politically feasible, because people like to be subsidized (oh boy, ten cent bus trips all over my city?) and not taxed (oh no! gas in the USA costing $4 per gallon?)

    k5fnd is right that bicycle commuting is really cheap. And it's hard to subsidize something that's so cheap, especially when commuter bikes and recreation bikes are so easy to subsitute for one another.
    Last edited by cerewa; 02-08-07 at 09:55 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd

    You guys have to stop trying to harvest cash out of the US Treasury, which is just going to go on the "Federal Credit Card" anyway! Which is more important, funding Medicare or funding your bicycle chain replacement?

    Be happy with your cycling lifestyle and your rich savings, and leave it alone already, OK?


    I think there's more to it than that. I support a hybrid type tax write off for biking, even though I can already claim bike stuff as business expenses because I do construction/landscaping/etc off a bike. Why? not because I'd get a penny extra back, I don't think it'd matter enough to my financial situation.

    Hybrid tax credits are there not because the gas tax savings aren't enough, but because the vehicles themselves are still a bit expensive and the incentive promotes the investment in such a vehicle.

    A full time commuting/car free lifestyle bike needs to be much more than a $200 beater. youneed fenders, raingear, tools, decent lighting, locks, storage and carrying gear.... it can easily become a $1500 investment, even a $2500 investment WITHOUT going spandex mafia overboard. (for example, a decent choice without accessories for a 20+ mile commute would be a fuji touring ride starting at around $1000. A brezzer ain't gonna hack that ride. But a $500 breezer or a $700 santa barbara electric would be great for a 5 mile commute.)

    If you want to fix the budget, a $500-$1000 tax deduction for bikes uused for commuting isn't going to matter. evenif a million people used it per year, it'd be a bare drop in the bucket to corporate welfare or defense spending. They'd not even miss the money.

    And thinkof the economic benefits if you bumped the bike market by even 75,000 bikes in a year. A million.... I'd be able to make a living as a wrench. In a Keynesian system, it'd be a pump priming that'd pay off fast. (you mention medicare, think about the possible medicare *savings* of getting tens of thousands of people on bikes.)

    Implementation is probably part of the problem. I'm obvious, you can take pictures of me with a worm drive saw, tool buckets, and potted plants in my trailer. But how do you regulate or ensure the tax credit is being put to use?
    looking for the one true bike.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Rather than giving us cyclists a tax break, I'd have a huge tax on cars and gasoline. I would pick 50 mpg (miles per gallon) as the benchmark. For every mpg under 50 that a new car gets, put a $500 tax on it. For every mpg over 50, give the car purchaser a $500 rebate. Every year, raise the 50 mpg benchmark by 1 mpg.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Exactly. The user pays. No free rides for anyone. No more car subsidies. You screw up the environment, you threaten national security by using imported oil from people who'd rather see us dead, you have to pay for it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Rather than giving us cyclists a tax break, I'd have a huge tax on cars and gasoline. I would pick 50 mpg (miles per gallon) as the benchmark. For every mpg under 50 that a new car gets, put a $500 tax on it. For every mpg over 50, give the car purchaser a $500 rebate. Every year, raise the 50 mpg benchmark by 1 mpg.
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    You already got it. Think of all the tax that you didn't pay on all the gas that you didn't buy!

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    The no free lunch mantra is nice and fun and all, but not very realistic. And results in privatized toll roads which aren't going to help much.....
    looking for the one true bike.

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    Urban Assault Cyclist DizzyG3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    Speaking as a fiscal conservative, don't forget that we bike commuters get a huge financial break already just because we do cycle. We pay a tenth or less of what cagers pay per mile to transport ourselves. That's direct cost, not even taking into account health benefits.

    Never, ever, when asked why people don't bike commute do they say "it costs too much". They don't commute because they feel unsafe.

    You guys have to stop trying to harvest cash out of the US Treasury, which is just going to go on the "Federal Credit Card" anyway! Which is more important, funding Medicare or funding your bicycle chain replacement?

    Be happy with your cycling lifestyle and your rich savings, and leave it alone already, OK?
    I can totally appreciate your sentiment. In fact, I don't really intend to ask for anything from the government on this issue. I more or less mean to point out an inconsistency. I think that Roody may be on to a good idea, but the skeptic in me says that it will only serve to get car manufacturers making mimimally more efficient cars, meeting only the lowest legal standard. I've read that the burning of fuel in a car is only a small fraction of the entire effect on the environment sed car has, especally when you calculate in the combined effects of manufacturing the car, building and maintaining the roads, and so on. More fuel-efficient cars still require the massive infrastructure to support them. I wonder if cars will someday go the route of cigarrettes; once seen as harmless, but eventually dscovered (and widey acknowledged) to be deadly.

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    Viriginia HB1826 [WashCycle Blog]

    The Washington metro blog, WashCycle, has this item today. It's a tax credit for Virginia residents that didn't get out of subcommittee. I think incentives for business to provide facilities is a good idea. I think ALL new office construction should be required to include this just as they do handicap ramps today.

    Quote Originally Posted by WashCycle
    Viriginia HB1826

    I mentioned this a little while back, but commuterpage blog had more about it

    HB1826 would provide a tax credit for employers of up to $5,000 for providing bicycle racks and showers in their place of business for use by employees who ride bikes to work and a tax credit for individuals of $15 per month for each month the individual rides his bike to and from work for at least 10 days of the month.

    Viriginia HB1826

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    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    Speaking as a fiscal conservative, don't forget that we bike commuters get a huge financial break already just because we do cycle. We pay a tenth or less of what cagers pay per mile to transport ourselves. That's direct cost, not even taking into account health benefits.

    Never, ever, when asked why people don't bike commute do they say "it costs too much". They don't commute because they feel unsafe.

    You guys have to stop trying to harvest cash out of the US Treasury, which is just going to go on the "Federal Credit Card" anyway! Which is more important, funding Medicare or funding your bicycle chain replacement?

    Be happy with your cycling lifestyle and your rich savings, and leave it alone already, OK?
    That's a very narrow look at the effect of a tax break. I believe a lot of us here can see a huge benefit if even 2% of car commuters switched to bikes. And a tax break (a real one) could actually help do such a thing. There would be a payback to the economy as there would be fewer health problems (those 2% would be in better shape), fewer traffic jams and car accidents (they're now on bikes, so 2% fewer cars), perhaps less road rage, less smog in the air (also helping slightly in health issues). All of those things would be a positive contribution to society AND the economy. To get that benefit, I think the tax break would have to work something like this:

    1. You set a few diff. levels of tax breaks so that someone could bike commute in the summer/spring only and still get some level of tax breaks.
    2. You set a min. number of days where the person commuted to work on bike to get that month's tax break
    3. Their boss/hr signs off each day marking that they did bike commute to work.

    Even if we got 5% of car commuters to ride a bike to work 20% of the time in the summer/spring and zero times in fall/winter, I still see a benefit that outweighs the cost of the tax breaks.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DizzyG3
    I can totally appreciate your sentiment. In fact, I don't really intend to ask for anything from the government on this issue. I more or less mean to point out an inconsistency. I think that Roody may be on to a good idea, but the skeptic in me says that it will only serve to get car manufacturers making mimimally more efficient cars, meeting only the lowest legal standard. I've read that the burning of fuel in a car is only a small fraction of the entire effect on the environment sed car has, especally when you calculate in the combined effects of manufacturing the car, building and maintaining the roads, and so on. More fuel-efficient cars still require the massive infrastructure to support them. I wonder if cars will someday go the route of cigarrettes; once seen as harmless, but eventually dscovered (and widey acknowledged) to be deadly.
    Cigarettes are a good example, DizzyG3. Like cigarettes, cars were once considered not only harmless but desirable. Now we're at the point where many people agree that we should all drive less, and a few of us are even quitting, but we still want to make it a matter of personal choice. Let's hope that eventually we'll reach the same point with cars that we've already reached with cigarettes--outlawing them in many places, and taxing them heavily to discourage use.

    One difference between cars and tobacco: Cars are a lot less healthy.


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    Hi, I'm new here...

    Recently I was reading a blog by someone in Belgium. He says employers there are encouraged to reimburse employees .15 Euros for each km of bicycle commute. No one is going to get rich doing that, but it is a little extra incentive. Of course you save a lot more money by not driving, but the incentive is tangible and works better as an incentive.

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    A $5k tax credit (I can't remember if it was a credit or a deduction, but $5k was the max) for buying a new hybrid or diesel car is around 15-20% against the purchase price. Is that a meaningful percentage of a (new) bike's purchase price to feel put out over? Maybe waiving sales tax on (non-petroleum) bike (and component) purchases would make people happy (in sales tax states anyway).

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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    A $5k tax credit (I can't remember if it was a credit or a deduction, but $5k was the max) for buying a new hybrid or diesel car is around 15-20% against the purchase price. Is that a meaningful percentage of a (new) bike's purchase price to feel put out over? Maybe waiving sales tax on (non-petroleum) bike (and component) purchases would make people happy (in sales tax states anyway).

    $200 tax credit off a 1k bike? yeah, it might. Don't see why the rules should be the same, though. If the goal is to get people off bikes, make it a full deduction up to $2000 for bikes and 'qualifying accessories' (lights, helmets, etc) one time per person per year.

    That floods the market on year 2 with cheap used bikes of good quality, and evenif people went completely bugnuts overboard and 10% of the population did this (hahahahaha, don't you wish), $60 billion sounds like a lot more than it is- it's a drop in the corporate welfare bucket, not evena drop in the Iraq bucket, and it's less than a tenth of total private health insurance payments per annum in the US.


    Honestly, *I* don't care. Evenif you gave me a double tax credit and let it count against my taxably negative income (try making under 14k with 2 kids- youcan live comfortably if you know how, but you ain't gotta taxable income)- even if you did, I *couldn't* buy the bike. But if you get me several thousand to a million more riders, it's worth it.

    This is a case where the incentive needs to match the effort- not the cost. Money is the LEAST important factor in cycle commuting, rain and sweat and ...ewwww, effort are bigger factors. That's why evenna $2k tax *credit* isn'tgoing to get nearly 30 million people out.

    For adult students, college is a job, full credit. For younglings? I don't know. I'd suport a $500 credit with a stipulation that someone from the school sign off on the presence of the bike 4 times betweenstartof school and winter break. Kids will mostly rideif you let them, giving parents an excuse to go somewhere other than walmart might lead to an increase in adult cyclists in a decade....
    looking for the one true bike.

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    Also there is no reliable way to prove that someone doesn't drive a car (assuming he has a valid license).

    Just because you don't have one in your name doesn't prove you don't drive someone else's regularly.

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    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Yes, there would be wonderful effects rippling through all of society of as many as 2% of car commuters bike commuted. No disagreement there.

    But... but... but...

    If the Federal Government GAVE commuting bikes away, 100% subsidized, do you think that would appreciably increase the numbers of bike commuters?

    I'll say it again, no one ever refrains from bike commuting, that I know of, because it's too expensive. They don't commute because they perceive (incorrectly) that it's too hard, too dangerous, too slow, too Gay, marks them as being poor or DUI, whatever!

    The most faithful and numerous bike commuters around here are the poor sidewalk riders. Well guess what, they don't pay Federal income tax (too poor, or they get paid cash because they're undocumented immigrants and they don't file), so tax deduction benefits won't help them at all!

    Actually, tax deduction benefits won't help most people who do file a Federal tax return. The only people it will help will be middle and upper middle class people (upper class people get whacked by the AMT, and often can't deduct much). The lower 50% income group of people who do file a Federal return usually file a Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040-A, and don't itemize deductions. Because they ain't got nothing to deduct.

    So no... we don't need to take out a cash advance on a horribly maxed out Federal line of credit to give cash away to middle and upper-middle class people, with nothing going to Joe Six Pack and Juan Paquete de Seis, people who really do depend on bikes as their sole transportation!

    This is a stupid idea that just needs to die!

    But Federal funding for bike facilities... good. Tax breaks for employers who put bike facilities and showers at work. Great. But puleeeeeeze, no Uncle Chump Gift Cards to individual cyclists



    Quote Originally Posted by donrhummy
    That's a very narrow look at the effect of a tax break. I believe a lot of us here can see a huge benefit if even 2% of car commuters switched to bikes. And a tax break (a real one) could actually help do such a thing. There would be a payback to the economy as there would be fewer health problems (those 2% would be in better shape), fewer traffic jams and car accidents (they're now on bikes, so 2% fewer cars), perhaps less road rage, less smog in the air (also helping slightly in health issues). All of those things would be a positive contribution to society AND the economy. To get that benefit, I think the tax break would have to work something like this:

    1. You set a few diff. levels of tax breaks so that someone could bike commute in the summer/spring only and still get some level of tax breaks.
    2. You set a min. number of days where the person commuted to work on bike to get that month's tax break
    3. Their boss/hr signs off each day marking that they did bike commute to work.

    Even if we got 5% of car commuters to ride a bike to work 20% of the time in the summer/spring and zero times in fall/winter, I still see a benefit that outweighs the cost of the tax breaks.
    Last edited by kf5nd; 02-17-07 at 04:40 PM.
    Peter Wang, LCI
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    Senior Member keraba's Avatar
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    I think there should be a tax break for cyclists. In addition to giving the lower class who depend on them a break, it would encourage more people to ride. One can discuss all the reasons why we should or shouldn't have a tax break, but one of the biggest reasons for tax breaks is to encourage behavior. I don't know why it should be any different for bicyclists. If bicyclists don't get it, then neither should hybrids or SUVs.

    How much should they get ? How do you prove you ride a bicycle ? I have no idea. I just know that I'm a strong cyclist and even I'm on the edge for riding to work.

    I suppose MUCH higher taxes on gas would work for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
    Also there is no reliable way to prove that someone doesn't drive a car (assuming he has a valid license).

    Just because you don't have one in your name doesn't prove you don't drive someone else's regularly.

    I don't get it. I never thought you'd have to sell your car, just get a bike and use it sometimes. Same deal as studenten, get a sign off once in a while to prove you at least occasionally use it.

    You have to BUY the bike, it's not like you profit from buying one and letting it sit. (hours of shopping time, at least)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    Yes, there would be wonderful effects rippling through all of society of as many as 2% of car commuters bike commuted. No disagreement there.

    But... but... but...

    If the Federal Government GAVE commuting bikes away, 100% subsidized, do you think that would appreciably increase the numbers of bike commuters?

    I'll say it again, no one ever refrains from bike commuting, that I know of, because it's too expensive. They don't commute because they perceive (incorrectly) that it's too hard, too dangerous, too slow, too Gay, marks them as being poor or DUI, whatever!

    The most faithful and numerous bike commuters around here are the poor sidewalk riders. Well guess what, they don't pay Federal income tax (too poor, or they get paid cash because they're undocumented immigrants and they don't file), so tax deduction benefits won't help them at all!

    Actually, tax deduction benefits won't help most people who do file a Federal tax return. The only people it will help will be middle and upper middle class people (upper class people get whacked by the AMT, and often can't deduct much). The lower 50% income group of people who do file a Federal return usually file a Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040-A, and don't itemize deductions. Because they ain't got nothing to deduct.

    snip

    Credit, not deduction. I disagree with the idea that it's pointless or that the idea needs to die. The "build it and they will come" approach ain't gonna work for this kind of thing. We *have* trails, the last 4 corporations I worked for had showers, it doesn't help that much. This is the US, after all. We're very fiscal, here, if you'll excuse the pun. You want a conservative to pump legs, you gots ta pay. Maybe he'll like it once he tries it, maybe he'll vote for or lobby for lanes and paths and facilities AFTER he's riding- but you ain't gonna getit BEFORE.

    We built this country this way, it's very money driven, and it's the amount of attention people give to there fiscal fitness that causes me to support a bike tax *credit* so strongly.
    looking for the one true bike.

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