Tax Policy, Car Ads and Warning Labels

A fellow wonk recently passed on this article to me:

“On the Road Again: How Tax Policy Drives Transportation Choices” by Roberta F. Mann. You can find it online here (you have to jump through some hoops to read it).

image from carbusters.org

A fellow wonk recently passed on this article to me:

“On the Road Again: How Tax Policy Drives Transportation Choices” by Roberta F. Mann. You can find it online here (you have to jump through some hoops to read it).

It catalogs a whole range of tax policies that favor automobiles (indeed more than any other vehicles, SUVs and Hummers) over other modes (and you can count policies in the other direction on one hand with lots of fingers left over). One in particular stood out for me: auto advertising is allowed as a tax deductible expense.

So all those car ads (you know, the ones with a single car out on the open road) trying to program us to love our cars, are being subsidized in part by our tax dollars.

This was reinforced for me by a discussion over on the car free network listserv about the same topic. One of the proposed antidotes: put a “Surgeon General’s Warning” on cars (at least on the stickers) detailing the impacts on air quality and risk of accidents.

I’m not holding my breath, but the idea makes me smile.

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