If politics is the art of successful compromise--defined as outcomes that make all parties equally unhappy--then the recent budget extension bill offers something for everyone.
It extended the tax credits for electric-car charging stations and natural-gas-vehicle refueling stations, which should make owners of those vehicles happy.
But it did not extend the generous tax credits for purchase or lease of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, disappointing advocates of that zero-emission vehicle technology. Those advocates include Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda.
Now, it turns out, the often-reviled "gas guzzler tax deduction" was restored to its previous level by the budget bill as well.
2010 Hummer H3T
As noted last week by the AutoSpies site, the Section 179 tax deduction that allows large capital purchases to be deducted as a business expense, rather than amortized over a number of years, has been returned to its previous level of $500,000.
(Readers can make their own judgment of the article's triumphal, sneering, "Take THAT, green-car weenies!" tone.)
Originally added to the Tax Code during the Bush era, the $500,000 deduction was intended to cut the cost of purchasing large capital equipment for farmers and other small businesspeople. Think tractors and combine harvesters, for instance.
It was written in such a way, however, that any vehicle over 6,000 pounds qualified--meaning that thousands of professionals could claim tax deductions for the full cost of buying large SUVs, heavy-duty pickup trucks, or (at the time) new HUMMER SUVs.
2014 Ford F-150 STX SuperCrew
Even if the vehicle in question were driven solely by a single occupant on work business, a more fuel-efficient vehicle that weighed far less and was used for the same purpose did not qualify for the deduction.
For the 2014 tax year, the deduction had been cut from $500,000 to $25,000. It will now continue at its previous level for the current year as well.
The AutoSpies writer claims he now has a Ford F-150 SuperCrew pickup truck on order; the 157-inch model weighs more than 6,000 pounds. At a price of around $50,000, he notes, up to 10 of those could be purchased by a small businessperson and fully deducted from its income.
So for green-car advocates, there's good news in the budget extension bill, and there's also some bad news.
As they say: Win some, lose some.
[This article should not be construed as tax advice. You should always consult your CPA if you are a small business and/or plan to take capital-equipment tax deductions.]