The Man has no love for the bike commuter…

So I’ve been preparing my files for tax season and I remember reading something a few months ago about possible tax credits for those that opt for alternative modes of transportation. Digging around to find something that I can show my tax accountant, I was pretty disgusted at what I found.

First off, from BikePortland, I learned that the tax break I had read about did not survive it’s initial introduction. Secondly, there’s a Hummer tax loophole, that allows businesses to write-off the costs of luxury SUVs at a certain weight. WTF?!

From the MSN article:

Under previous tax legislation, business owners were allowed to select for company use one of several light-truck models weighing more than 6,000 pounds fully loaded and write off most, if not all, of the costs on their tax returns. The law allowed for an immediate deduction of up to $100,000. Sharp-eyed business operators were quick to notice that most of today’s sport utility vehicles met the weight limit. Soon, Hummers and Escalades replaced sedans as the business vehicle of choice.

This may be old news for some, but I’m really floored by all this. The tax legislation was adjusted after criticism, but cmon! There were even credits for hybrids, but god forbid they give incentives to people who are doing something positive that isn’t part of the industrial-auto-petroleum-government complex.

But, what can you expect when we have tools (and dull ones at that) like this in positions of power….

and this tool as well (bike-related at 4:28):

If these two guys were Park tools, the little blue rubber stamp on their foreheads would be AH-01 and AH-02 (email me if you can’t figure out what the “A**” and “H” would stand for…).

I suppose what all this really boils down to is consumption. We as bike commuters just don’t consume enough stuff to be on The Man’s radar. Or, if we are consuming stuff, it’s not the right stuff. It’s not big motorized vehicular stuff that uses black oily stuff that puts a bunch of green stuff in the pockets of men with lots of stuff. What’s a bike commuter to do to get some love from The Man?


  1. Jennifer

    Pay him off?

  2. Pingback: Taxes » The Man has no love for the bike commuter…

  3. Mike Myers

    Politicians are so insulated from the common man that it is not funny. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Democrats or Republicans—-these are ULTRARICH elitists, for the most part, and it would never occur to them to ride their bikes to work. They take limos or the private Congressional subway.

    The disdain in both congressmen’s voice is telling. If we spent a fraction of the 12 billion dollars a month we are currently spending on the wars on improving mass transit, alternative fuel research, or even bicycle facilities, we could make a dent. But it’s not going to happen.

    Gas prices are forecast to rise in the spring. Some cities will see $4/gallon or more. Will that spur some people to ride their bikes to work? I don’t think so. We’ve discussed this issue before, and I think gasoline would have to reach ridiculous prices to cause people to do that en masse. $10/gallon would likely do it. But if gas DID hit that price I think society would come unglued. Riots, gasoline theft, total chaos. Americans are wedded to their cars—-and if that union is torn asunder WATCH OUT.

  4. Wayne Myer

    Don’t consume enough stuff, my @$$. I am almost singlehandedly propping up the small family-owned corner grocery and some local produce farmers. Okay, that is an exaggeration, but I eat *a lot*.

  5. cafn8

    Yes, it’s a twisted world (or at least country) we live in.

  6. Jamis_Bater

    I remember reading with interest about the proposal for the bike commuters, but it wouldn’t apply to me after all. I believe the bill was offering that businesses could pay their employees up to a certain amount if they rode their bikes to work and in turn those businesses could write that off on their taxes. I work for a non-profit so such a bill wouldn’t benefit me anyway, but it was a nice gesture all the same.

    I find it interesting that when filing an itemized deduction form I can deduct energy saving improvements to my home, but I can’t deduct costs associated with my very real energy saving bicycle. Perhaps the home improvement lobbyists are more powerful or better at their job than the bike industry lobbyists.

  7. Will

    If you want to get some “love from the man,” all you have to do is throw that bike to the ground, buy the biggest SUV you can, and run it (the bike) over repeatedly while chanting whatever is that day’s catch phrase about the new, popular non-issue.

  8. Mike

    The hybrid law has me especially chuffed-you get credit for a high milage car, but it doesn’t apply to a motorcycle that gets the same or better milage.

    So cheer up, it’s not just cyclists getting screwed.

  9. ook

    This made it into the bill because there are some good politicians that want to do the smart thing. It was blocked by tools that you can remove. So do something about it and replace the tools with better people. Donate. Campaign. Stand up for them in public.

    This year we even have a presidential candidate that promotes bicycling in his platform. Are you actively supporting him or are you just going to sit around and complain about it?

  10. Lance

    He promotes biking? Well George Bush, Sr promoted no more taxes…good thing politicians never lie. Forgive my utmost sarcasim for our fine government.

  11. ook

    Lance, if you want to give up, fine.

    I’m going to keep trying.

    And although you feel the need to mock those who try to make things better, I understand it’s from the injury the tools have inflicted on you and I really hope what we’re doing will help heal you someday.

  12. Brendan

    Let’s have a round of applause for our (only?) advocate, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

  13. wannaCmore

    What a bunch of CHOADS! I doubt the cycling industry made even a 10th of that $40 billion that Exxon cleared… To that McTool from NC, “Ride a Bike”: zero emissions + better health = a better place.

  14. db

    +1 for Earl:

    “Let’s have a minute’s silence for all those people who are sitting in traffic on the way to the gym to ride a stationary bicycle.” - US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

  15. Brendan

    db, that quote is awesome.

  16. Jim

    I just wrote Boehner via his website the following message, probably no impact, but more effective than fuming…

    Mr. Boehner,
    In reviewing your comments on the new energy bill, I found many of them to be on the mark, however, the comment that people riding their bicycles to work that “this is not going to solve Americas energy problem�? is not incorrect, however, none of the legislation currently before the house is “going to solve America’s energy problem�?. Let me elaborate briefly; it is well known that no single program is going to help us become independent of overseas oil, but by riding my bicycle to work last year I avoided the use of well over 100 gallons of gasoline, Insignificant I know, but in July of last year one of my co-workers started using public transit AND his bike to get to work, he lives 80 miles away and avoided the direct consumption of roughly 1,000 gallons of fuel in 6 months! Two weeks ago another co-worker started riding his bike to work and estimates that he will avoid direct consumption of over 200 gallons of fuel in 2008.
    I have since moved and am living farther from work this year and anticipate a savings of 250 gallons this year, so adding it all up for my office of 10 people, we are going to save almost 2,500 gallons of fuel this year!!! Were there a tax incentive for bicycle commuting, and 1 in 100 working adults (181 million according to the US Census) took advantage it it, with an average commute distance of 10 miles (average mpg of 20 for actual fleet on the ground, not cafe) for 30 weeks of the year, that would have the potential to save over 135.8 million gallons of gasoline or a little over 6.9 million barrels of oil ( a little under 1/2 of one days national consumption). And that’s if only 1 in 100 people took advantage. My experience is that where I live, roughly 1 in 50 working adults use a bicycle to get to work, and that number is increasing every year.
    So next time you think that the sweat of people riding their bikes to work is just a quaint gesture, here are some numbers to think about, just like voting, every individual can make a difference in the fight to become independent from aggressive oil-rich countries.

    Thank you for your time

  17. db

    Jim, that’s a great response. Well thought-out and logical. The cynic in me says that logic is wasted on politicians, but I also know better than to paint a group of people with a broad brush. Maybe when someone takes the time to do the math for them, they’ll listen. Nice job.

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