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Congressman: Reduced e-bike tax credit 'frustrating' but a start

Published October 11, 2021

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) attended the Sea Otter Classic on Friday to count down the start of the e-bike race, but he also took time to recount the progress of the E-BIKE Act to establish a more affordable transportation option.

"As President Biden said the other day, legislating is frustrating," Panetta told BRAIN on Friday before the e-bike race.

The E-BIKE Act, brought forth by Panetta and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), originally would have given consumers a 30% tax credit for the purchase of an e-bike. Last month, the House Ways and Means Committee cut the tax credit in half. While disappointed, Panetta called it a beginning.

"My attitude was, OK, let's take what we can get and start the conversation. E-bikes are being talked about in Washington, D.C., just like EVs, just like E-buses. Before that bill, trust me, in Washington, D.C., especially with some of my members on both sides of the aisle, that wasn't in their vernacular. And now e-bikes are."

The Senate's similar e-bike tax credit bill — Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act — was introduced in July.

The House's Build Back Better Act — formerly the GREEN Act — proposes $7.4 million for e-bike tax credits over 10 years. It also would establish an $81 a month pre-tax benefit for biking to work that could be used with parking and transit and bike-share, micromobility and e-bike costs.

The reworked bill, now in the House Budget Committee, offers a 15% tax credit applied to the purchase of a new e-bike (the first $5,000) up to $750 benefit value. It allows taxpayers to claim credit for one e-bike per taxable year — two for joint filers — beginning in 2022. The credit would phase out "starting at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married filing jointly) at a rate of $200 per $1,000 of additional income. For a given taxable year, the taxpayer may use modified adjusted gross income for that year or the immediately preceding year, whichever is lower."

"It was sort of a counter to some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who were using that argument that this is just like Tesla for the elite," Panetta said. "No, we want to make this accessible to everyone."

Also included is a bicycle commuter benefit to allow use of pre-tax dollars to fund bike purchases and bike-share memberships; e-bikes for business tax credit, an incentive of 30% for businesses to install e-bike charging stations; funding to reconnect or enhance communities split apart by highway projects; and opportunities to build a sustainable and complete bicycle network.

"We all enjoy riding the conventional bike, but the e-bike adds that different little aspect, that little kick that when you see that hill, next thing you know you're flying up it," Panetta said. "It's energizing. But what I realize is it's not about recreation. We have to start getting people to think about it as transportation. And that's how we're looking at this e-bike incentive bill we have in Washington, D.C. That's what we're hoping for."

While he owns a conventional bike, Panetta has plans to purchase an e-bike.

"Trust me, we'd love to have the 30%, but at this point, I thought it was necessary to take the win as it is in order to continue the conversation of getting more butts on bikes," he said. "I told my wife once I pass this legislation I'm going to treat myself to an e-bike. It will be self-gratifying to do that."

Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike, Sea Otter Classic

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