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Welfare For Porsche Drivers
If you are rich, Uncle Sam wants to lend you a helping hand paying for your wheels. Scott Burns writes on

Not everyone is eligible, of course. But if you use a vehicle 100% for business and purchase it, new or used, from a select list of big-time gas-guzzlers, Uncle Sam is ready to help you out.

Yes, I'm talking about the well-publicized special tax break for vehicles with a gross weight of at least 6,000 pounds. Gross weight is the weight of the vehicle including fuel, passengers and payload. Because of this, gross weight can be a good deal more than the empty weight of the vehicle.

Forty-one domestic and 15 foreign SUVs qualify for this tax break. The Porsche Cayenne, a notably business-like vehicle, is among them. (Amy notes: 13 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway, according to US Dept. of Energy stats.) As a consequence, while the depreciation write-off for any passenger car used for business is limited to only $2,960 in 2005, down from $10,610 in 2004, those claiming 100% business use of these SUVs could deduct 100% of the $89,665 price of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo during 2003 and until late October 2004. For those who bought in time, the write-off represented an immediate income tax savings of $31,383, provided the buyer was in the 35% tax bracket. Think of it as a bagatelle for the non-indigent from the Jobs and Growth Act of 2003.

One of the particularly compelling uses I've seen of this tax break was a bright parrot-green Hummer2 parked at a luxury marina in Burnt Store, Fla. A sign on the driver's door advertised a dress shop.

...Tax savings for guzzler buyers reduce government revenue, increase the federal deficit, increase our trade deficit, and send yet more money to the Middle East. If we were going to devise a formula for wrecking the country, it would be difficult to improve on this one. We might as well call this portion of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 the Osama Bin Laden Support Fund.

To be fair, I got a tax break on my car, too -- the 1900lb, Super Ultra Low Emission Honda Insight hybrid, averaging 670 miles to the tank. My reward was a one-time deduction of $2,000. Wooweee. Do we have our priorities in the wrong place, or what?

Posted by aalkon at April 26, 2005 8:24 AM

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I see the 670 miles per tank on Honda's website. Is that what your car actually gets? I've heard a report from someone local with a hybrid Civic that doesn't get anywhere near its rated mpg. I'm curious about these hybrids but would like more real world info on their mileage.

Posted by: Dan H. at April 26, 2005 12:35 PM

Not sure how many mine gets per tank. I drive a lot in the city, but go to the insight web site and you'll see people who get 100 mpg.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 26, 2005 3:46 PM

I am a salesman for Honda and have sold quite a few civic hybrids, all of my customers have reported that the gas milage is pretty accurate once you learn to drive the hybrid. Which means you know when the engines turn on and off so you don't make them overwork. The first month of ownership most of them report a few miles less, but in month 2 say its accurate. Hope that helps

Posted by: michael at May 11, 2006 10:47 AM

Thanks, Michael. You're absolutely right. I drive mine pretty well now. Get less mileage in the city, but I can get up to 66 or 67 hwy if traffic isn't heavy and I don't leadfoot it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 11, 2006 11:01 AM

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