A recent promotional letter from a Hummer dealer excitedly made this pitch: "Allow me to introduce you to a fabulous opportunity. A tax loophole so big you could drive a Hummer H2 through it!"
I'm afraid he was not exaggerating. Tucked way down in the arcane language of one of George W's tax cuts for the rich was a provision that allows businesses to deduct up to $100,000 from their income taxes for the full cost of big SUVs.
At a time when the federal deficit is bloating, at a time when we should be cutting back on the gluttonous consumption of foreign oil, at a time when pollution from cars is amassing a record level of the carbon-dioxide gas that causes global warming -- Washington has gouged a loophole into our tax laws that actively encourages rich people to avoid paying a big chunk of their taxes by buying the biggest, hoggiest gas guzzlers and pollution machines that exist in the entire auto kingdom.
Bush's loophole literally requires buyers to go for the huge, most luxurious tanks on the road -- Hummers, Range Rovers, Navigators, etc. The deduction only applies to vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or more. Forget your zippy roadsters, your perky hybrids, your family sedans, your humble pickup trucks -- to qualify for this tax break, your road machine has to be bigger than big. How big? Even the Ford Explorer and Chevy Suburban don't qualify.
An accountant tells of a client who was going to buy an Explorer. But by moving way up in price and weight to the yacht-like Lincoln Navigator, he was able to slip through Bush's loophole and save $20,000 -- meaning he got the bigger one for about the same as the Explorer would have cost.
Why should we be giving tax incentives to rich people so they can drive a glorified hog for their latte runs? To close this loophole, call Taxpayers for Common Sense: (800) TAXPAYER.
Publication date: 04/15/04