January 27, 2003 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Tax credits for buying an SUV? Who would have thought that you could write off that new Hummer H2?
posted by djseafood (29 comments total)
Just in case someone still doesn't know why America's roads are swamped with those gaz-guzzling things...
posted by betobeto at 8:28 AM on January 27, 2003

See, I always thought it was becasue Americans are self-centered tools. The tax cut is just icing on the cake.

Seriously, though, it's clear that the priorities set by the government in this regard is built around really silly definitions of work vehicles. The majority of small business owners don't use their vehicle for "work" but instead merely use it to commute. I have no problem with tradesmen deducting their trucks, but the law is being used to deduct the costs of doctors, lawyers and McDonald's franchisee's daily drive. This isn't how the deduction was intended to work, but it certainly goes to feed the SUV hungry public.
posted by shagoth at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2003

If anyone ever doubts the extent to which Bush is a black spot on American history, please read above article.
posted by four panels at 8:40 AM on January 27, 2003

"Oh, you've got to be kidding," said Skip Barnett, a Hummer dealer in Atlanta. "That would make a Hummer practically free."

From the mouth of someone who will benefit from this tax cut -- I think that about says it all.
posted by katherine at 8:49 AM on January 27, 2003

Just in case someone still doesn't know why America's roads are swamped with those gaz-guzzling things...

Wow, nailed it, didn't ya? It's only the tax breaks that account for everybody and his soccer mom driving an SUV these days,r ight?

'Cause it couldn't be that people just, ya know, like 'em, or anything, right? 'Cause everybody knows by now that they're death traps and environment wreckers and nothing short of Satan's own handcart, right (and, hell, I've even heard they cause colon cancer in cloned cats...)? And, of course, no one would ever, ever, ever really want one just 'cause they're fun to drive and, oh yeah, completely legal and not-coincidentally serve as excellent tweaks to all those hilarious little busybodies who have nothing better to do but worry about what everybody else is driving... right? Right?

No, I thought not...
posted by JollyWanker at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2003

As a tax lawyer, this article is really frustrating becaues it is so misleading. If I can decipher it correctly, it is referring to sec 179 deductions for small business owners. Essentially, this just allows a small business to deduct currently up to $25,000 in 2003 the cost of equipment purchased for use in the business (instead of capitalizing it and depreciating it). This could be a truck, printing press, lathe, drill press, forklift, any equipment used in a business. And it only goes to small businesses, once you put more than $200,000 of such property in service in a given year, the deduction is phased out.

shagoth, nobody is properly deducting the cost of a vehicle that is used to commute back and forth to work. and i don't think many doctors or lawyers are deducting vehicles in their practices at all. doctors might be able to deduct mileage between office and hospital but to most it would probably not be worth their time to track. and, as a tax lawyer, if i could figure out a way to deduct a vehicle, I surely would (but I have not yet figured that one out).
posted by probablysteve at 8:52 AM on January 27, 2003

I understand that some small businesses have a legitimate need for a work vehicle. I don't understand how to create a tax break for small businesses that doesn't also allow doctors and lawyers to claim land yachts as a business expense. On the other hand, while stimulating the economy is great I don't understand why small business owners should get a tax break to do it. If a vehicle is a business expense then the business should be responsible enough to purchase the most suitable vehicle that they can afford. Part of the cost includes taxes, just as this should be part of the decision making process for consumers purchasing houses or automobiles.

Maybe there are some small businesses that wouldn't make it if the tax writeoff were cut out. Well, too bad, somebody else with better business sense can fill your shoes and maybe you can work for them. Just because you've started a business doesn't mean you're entitled to any special breaks (though in reality it would appear that it does)
posted by substrate at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2003

From my own perspective, if this moves a couple tens of thousands of units and positions the industry to offer me a better paying job than I currently hold, all I have to say is "Right on!"

(That and I hope that the whiny tree huggers aren't using gas-powered leaf blowers to move their yard waste out into the street.) ;-P
posted by mischief at 9:00 AM on January 27, 2003

Geez, I use a rake. And a shovel for snow.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 AM on January 27, 2003

you're right probablysteve. the article is misleading.
posted by tomplus2 at 9:45 AM on January 27, 2003

Fatal accident this morning. Woman in an SUV was nearly sideswiped in traffic, overcompensated, hit the guardrail, rolled, and died.

Safer. My. Ass.

Thankfully her oversized statusmobile didn't kill anyone else in its death throes.
posted by Cerebus at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2003

Holy cow, an SUV thread with people pissing and moaning about them? Never seen one of those before.

[voice type = "Poltergeist exorcist"]

This horse is dead.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:06 AM on January 27, 2003

off topic: i haunt the 2-tracks and snomobile trails here in michigan. a hummer2 is too wide and too heavy to go to most offroad places i take my chevy tracker with ease. (built by suzuki as 'grand vitara'). i don't understand why anyone would want anything bigger than a cherokee (discontinued by jeep this year in favor of the downsized and yuppied up liberty) including blazer, explorer and thier larger brethren. after 2 years, overhanging branches and brush have violently defenestrated virtually every piece of 'esthetic' plastic trim originally found on my vehicle (no great loss) and a wider vehicle would only negatively impact the native foliage.
posted by quonsar at 10:17 AM on January 27, 2003

posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 AM on January 27, 2003

posted by specialk420 at 10:52 AM on January 27, 2003

drove by a house yesterday... these people own 4 durangos, 1 odd GMC truck, and another suburban. i've seen all of the trucks there before, but not at once.

one family. six SUVs.

makes me hate how they help give us americans a bad name... over indulgence in every way possible.

remember the old style buick wildcat from the 70s? ever look at the chrome trim on the front side panels (above and to the left of the wheelwell) ? well.. to me, that just symbolizes all of this... I can see the engineers now:

[buick engineer 1] hmm.. lots of dead space here doing nothing. we should put a rectangular piece of metal here. ok.. looks good.. still some dead space though
[buick engineer 2] Ohh! let's slap one more above it, and one more below it! there! no more unused space on this panel...

And this reminds me, I have a FP post to make.. should be a good laugh at the expense of SUV owners.
posted by shadow45 at 11:01 AM on January 27, 2003

I can't believe the Hummer is called "the Hummer." While I was recently car-shopping, I visited a Mazda dealer who had also begun selling Hummers. There are no words to describe the reality of being faced with a balding, middle-aged sales manager asking "Can I interest you in a Hummer?"
posted by kindall at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2003

OH, MY! mischief referred to environmentally concerned people as "whiny tree huggers"! I should be offended!

OH, WAIT! mischief is the troll whose most recently posted:

a) A front-page link to the National Enquirer.

b) A front-page link to the "Exploding Varmints" video.

NEVER MIND! Not even close to worth it.
posted by Shane at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2003

Typo above: "who" not "whose" (of course).
posted by Shane at 11:11 AM on January 27, 2003

Kindall: there's worse.

I once received in the mail a catalog from a bird-feeder company. Amongst their offerings were such diverse items as hummingbird feeders.

The page with the hummingbird feeders exhorted me, in large letters, to ENJOY DELIGHTFUL HUMMERS!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on January 27, 2003

Holy cow, an SUV thread with people pissing and moaning about them? Never seen one of those before.

holy smokes, mr_crash_davis complaining about an SUV thread? I never thought I'd see the day!
posted by mcsweetie at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2003

kindall: but did you unzip or at least threaten to?
posted by shagoth at 12:47 PM on January 27, 2003

"holy smokes, mr_crash_davis complaining about an SUV thread?"

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, my right to complain about it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:51 PM on January 27, 2003

Pardon me, but could anyone point me to the discussion about the tax credit for small businesses using light trucks that is allegedly being abused to provide individuals with subsidies for leases and purchase of luxury vehicles? I was curious about that, but I seem to have wandered into the wrong thread.
posted by dglynn at 1:09 PM on January 27, 2003

kindall: but did you unzip or at least threaten to?

No -- there's no telling where a car salesman's mouth has been.

(Okay, I admit that this cheap joke is patently unfair to the vast majority of the car salesmen I met while car-shopping. The ones at the Ford dealer deserve it, though.)
posted by kindall at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2003

I know a pretty well-off guy who takes advantage of this tax cut to buy a Suburban every few years. What does he do? Investment advisor. What does he need it for? Hauling his boat to the lake -- and the tax break, I imagine.
posted by raaka at 1:45 PM on January 27, 2003

The SUV angle is a deliberate troll (by the "consumer groups and lawmakers"), alas. Though there's a legitimate point here about incentivizing the wrong thing, the idea that this tax break is mainly being used for SUVs, is specious -- it merely makes a good headline. Certainly big-ticket SUVs will be hardly more popular among the tax write-off crowd than among the general population. The 40,000 Hummer H2s manufactured by GM in the 2002 model year represent 1/4 of 1 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States last year. Crisis! The consensus in the industry is that, after nearly two decades of creeping upward, light truck (and SUV) sales have peaked. Most new SUVs are not even light trucks -- they're cars, regular sedan chassis with ute-like bodies. Lexus RX300? Car. Honda CR-V? Car. Toyota RAV4? Car. Why are the hybrids popular? For all the reasons people say that SUVs should be unpopular. The trucklike ride, the cavernous (and noisy) interior, the rickety high center of gravity, and most of all, the outrageous gas mileage -- are all significantly mitigated by the hybrids. So it's demonstrably untrue that people are going for gas-guzzlers by the drove: in fact, they are shying away from the big bad SUVs and buying the lighter, nimbler, sippier hybrids. And it's often for good reason; even if you only fill it up with camping gear, pet, and offspring once a year, it's still more flexible for all those suburban activities like hauling home a full-grown bush or holding a tailgate party.

As for the legitimacy of the tax break, it's well known that you can use just about any old tax break you like until you get caught. Also, for many small businessmen -- and doctors and lawyers count -- the car may well be their place of business in no small way.
posted by dhartung at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2003

I heard about this and called my dad, since he owns a small business. He told me he could write off an SUV if he wanted to already. Told me he's always been able to do that. Said he mentions that it will be used off-road or something. Which makes sense since he's in construction. Anyways, it didn't blow his skirt up.
posted by Ron at 10:12 PM on January 27, 2003

Anyways, it didn't blow his skirt up.

Yeah, well, it blew this guy's skirt up.
posted by Shane at 5:01 AM on January 28, 2003

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