Bicycles in the Bail Out Bill?

by kespeland on October 8, 2008

The big news in the bail out bill is, well, the bail out, the emergency economic measures.  But lawmakers tacked on many energy and environment-related amendments, including the extension of certain renewable energy tax credits.

But there are some other environmental items of note (and if you’ve found more you’d like to share, please leave a comment):

1. A carbon audit of the tax code.
I know it sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, but this could reveal some hidden incentives to emit carbon dioxide, or hidden incentives not to do much about what you’re already emitting.  Whether or not any action will be taken to update the tax code as a result of the study remains to be seen.  Here’s an excerpt from this section in the so-called bail-out bill:

“a) Study- The Secretary of the Treasury shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects.
(b) Report- Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Academy of Sciences shall submit to Congress a report containing the results of study authorized under this section.”

2. Credits for bicycle commuting!
Lawmakers also appear to have made provisions to amend the tax code by including reimbursements for bicycle commuting as a fringe benefit for employees. Fringe benefits already include reimbursements for parking and vehicle mileage, but this is the first time a non-motorized vehicle counts too.  I’ll have to check with my boss on whether or not they’d like to reimburse me for some recent repairs to Ginger, my bike. Here’s an excerpt from this section in the so-called bail-out bill:

“SEC. 211. TRANSPORTATION FRINGE BENEFIT TO BICYCLE COMMUTERS.
(i) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- The term `qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement’ means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment….”

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