With the start of a new year and both the U.S. houses now firmly under the control of Republicans, U.S. Democratic President Barack Obama is officially what’s known in political circles as a ‘Lame Duck,’ with Congress doing everything it can to overrule or change previous policy set by the White House under a more supportive legislative branch.
Despite the overwhelming hostility towards the White House from Capitol Hill however, President Obama is working hard to propose new measures which he hopes Congress will adopt for the benefit of all Americans, including a new $4 trillion budget proposal which would boost taxes on higher-income Americans and corporations, end tight federal spending caps, reduce the deficit and improve life for millions of middle-class and low-income Americans.
For fans of green cars comes a number of proposed changes to Federal incentives offered to those who buy plug-in and low-emissions vehicles, ending the current maximum $7,5000 per-car tax-credit program for electric cars and replacing it with a purchase rebate worth up to $10,000 per purchase.
The proposals, hidden among the pages of the $4 trillion budget alongside such measures as a number of tax-breaks for the middle class and a limit to the number of tax deductions the wealthiest 1 percent can apply to their tax bills, would also make other low-emission cars eligible for the proposed $10,000 purchase rebate, including cars and trucks powered by compressed natural gas.
As The Detroit News (via GreenCarReports) details, the new budget proposal would also triple the budget allocated to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for improved vehicle and research programs, allowing the agency to step up its efforts to inform motorists about uncompleted recalls and push for ever-tighter automotive safety standards.
It would also allow for the agency to improve its preparedness for more high-tech self-driving cars and new fuel types like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Currently green-car incentives available for plug-in car buyers are limited to a maximum federal tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle, which must be retrospectively applied by customers when doing their end-of-year taxes. This not only means that those buying a plug-in car have to wait anything up to a year for their tax rebate to come into force but it assumes that they have at least $7,500 of federal taxes accrued against which the tax credit can be applied.
Those who do not have a tax bill that large — due to a lower income for example — cannot always make use of the rebate. The White House’s proposal of an instant rebate applied at the time of purchase — something already done in many European countries in lieu of a tax rebate — would be a much fairer and more equitable way of helping citizens buy a greener car.
Despite sending the budget proposal to Congress however, it’s unlikely that President Obama’s budget will be passed without significant modification. Given the Obama Administration has repeatedly tried — and failed — to implement this kind of incentive change in past budgets, we’re not holding out any hope we’ll see a change any time soon.
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