Transportation Feed

The Senate finally cranked the engine on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, but it's still got a ways to go before becoming law. One good thing about that extended journey is that it should give us time to read the legislative road map, aka the officially titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act's 2,702 pages. A bill that size offers a lot of detours. One that's getting some attention is the inclusion of a pilot program for a vehicle mileage tax, or VMT. The possibility of a VMT was broached, then dismissed, in early infrastructure talks. Basically, it's a fee... Read more →


The Capitol Hill debate over how cryptocurrency taxes fit into the funding of the infrastructure bill continues. Most Americans, however, already have decided that stronger Internal Revenue Service oversight of digital asset transactions are OK. Virtual assets meet the infrastructure road: Part of the payment of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure now before the Senate would come from stricter enforcement of cryptocurrency transactions. The Internal Revenue Service considers virtual currency a capital asset, meaning potential taxes when transactions produce a profit. The agency has ramped up efforts to track virtual currency moves in recent year. A provision in the infrastructure... Read more →


One thing missing from how to pay for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill finally being debated on Capitol Hill is an increase in the federal gas tax. This fuel excise tax originated during the Great Depression as a temporary added penny to each gallon of gasoline. Back then, 1932 to be precise, a gallon of gas cost 18 cents; that's around $2.90 in today's dollars, which is just a few cents more than what I paid this week to fill up my Chevy. Some lawmakers periodically call for an increase in this tax, which goes to the Highway Trust Fund... Read more →


UPDATE, Aug. 9, 2021: A last-minute push to limit new cryptocurrency tax reporting requirements in the $1 trillion infrastructure package (see Aug. 4 update below) failed today, despite a bipartisan agreement and a frenzied lobbying push, per The Washington Post. UPDATE, Aug. 4, 2021: In response to the concerns elaborated on in the rest of this post, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has offered an alternative cryptocurrency revenue-raising plan. The amendment was crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (more on his complaints later in this post) of Pennsylvania and Cynthia Lummis of... Read more →


With companies reopening as the coronavirus has abated somewhat, rush-hour traffic has returned to highways across the United States. Austin area workers, like these on the Capital of Texas Highway, are among those resuming commuting. (Photo by Tony Webster via Flickr) Many workplaces across the United States are returning, at least in part, to pre-COVID-19 form. That means many employees are heading back to their offices. And that means commuting is returning, too. The good news for many workers is that they get tax-free help in going back to their jobs. Since it's been a while between bus, train, vanpool... Read more →


More tourists, including American travelers, are expected this year at the Louvre and other European destinations as countries continue to get a better handle on the coronavirus. (Photo by Dimitry Anikin from Pexels) Most Americans are looking forward July 4th to celebrations this year like the ones they enjoyed pre-COVID. The vaccinated hubby and I are among that group, although I admit that last year's fireworks free festivities were fine with us. Others, however, are planning on declaring their coronavirus independence in a global fashion. The European Union (EU) plans a gradual and partial easing of its international travel ban... Read more →


Photo courtesy Zutobi Could it be? Is Infrastructure Week finally happening? Maybe. There are bills and revisions to bills and working groups and bipartisan agreements and partisan criticisms of agreements. The only thing that the, at last rough count, eight transportation-plus proposals floating around on Capitol Hill have in common is that none has the votes right now in either chamber to pass. But things are fluid and could change, for better or worse (depending on your political and fiscal position), at any time. The only certainty is that something must be done by the end of this 2021 fiscal... Read more →


The Biden Administration has made no secret of its support for electric vehicles. President Joe Biden emphasized that commitment, as well as his general love of motoring, when he took the wheel of Ford's new electric pickup truck at the Michigan plant on May 18. Now Congress is following up on the White House electric auto initiative. $5,000 EV credit hike: Part of the Clean Energy for America bill would boost the current maximum electric vehicle (EV) tax credit from $7,500 to a potential $12,500. It cleared the Senate Finance Committee on May 26. The added $5,000 in tax credits... Read more →


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, airline health protocols got most of the attention. That's not surprising, since when flying, we're all trapped for hours with strangers in a metal tube with recycle air. Now, with more of us vaccinated and ready to get out again and see sights beyond our homes, the travel focus has shifted. It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer and a major road-tripping holiday. Highway bound: AAA expects Memorial Day 2021 travel to rebound substantially. The national motoring membership organization predicts 60 percent more travelers this long holiday weekend than last year's... Read more →


Archer Daniels Midland is one of the major corporations cited in a new report of companies that paid no taxes in 2020. The Biden Administration's infrastructure plan has ramped up the perennial tax debate between Democrats and Republicans. The White House wants to increase tax collections on companies to pay for the proposal, dubbed The American Jobs Plan. And that approach is getting some support from a recent Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) report. The Washington, D.C. nonprofit found that 55 of the largest U.S. companies paid nothing in federal income taxes last year. The $0 tax payments... Read more →


President Joe Biden's heart may belong to his 1967 classic Corvette Stingray, but he's working to make Uncle Sam's 600,000 automotive fleet electric. (Photo by Adam Schultz via Flicker) Much of the focus on the new White House understandably has been on President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief package. But Biden also has been pushing his alternative energy plans, specifically a move to electric vehicles (EVs). Just days after his inauguration, he vowed to replace the bulk of the federal government's fleet of vehicles with made-in-America EVs. On Tuesday, March 2, Biden met virtually with executives in the EV charging infrastructure... Read more →


No, there isn't an electric version of Chevrolet's iconic Corvette (because who would want that!), but you have lots of other electric vehicle options that could get you not only a new car, but a nice federal tax credit. There are a couple of television commercials I look forward to every holiday season. There's the Corona Extra "Oh Tannenpalm" spot that's been airing for 30 years. And, of course, there's Hershey's Kisses handbell choir, which has been running even longer. Not as welcome, but as inescapable this time of year are the automaker ads with cars bearing giant bows. I've... Read more →


Voters' voices literally matter each election when initiatives are on ballots. Here are results of some tax questions that were decided by the 2020 electorate. Vice President Joseph R. Biden today was declared president-elect of the United States. It took longer than usual, but that part of Nov. 3 (Donald J. Trump legal challenges notwithstanding) is over. Decisions on the myriad ballot questions that also went before voters across the county on the first Tuesday of November came a bit sooner. Here's a quick look at the results of the tax initiatives in the order they were featured in my... Read more →


Welcome to Part 4 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In In today's post, at changes to tax credit, deduction and income exclusion amounts. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021. Deductions are... Read more →


In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


No gasoline necessary for electric vehicles like this Chevrolet Bolt, which instead is plugged in to recharge for the road. If you opt for an IRS-certified electric auto or light truck, you might get some tax break help on your purchase. Climate change is getting more coverage lately. People are paying attention to what's happening with Mother Nature here in the United States thanks to the opposing environmental takes by the two presidential contenders. On a more personal level for many Americans is that we're in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons ever — we're already... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


The Trump Administration plans in the next few weeks to announce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to Bloomberg and Financial Times. The proposed spending on roads and bridges is seen as a way to further jump start the COVID-19 hobbled U.S. economy. The money reportedly would be spent over 10 years, but those familiar with the White House thinking say the plan is still "fluid and could take time." It also would go head-to-head with not only a sizable Democratic highway bill now before a House subcommittee, but also a GOP version that cleared the Senate last summer. Mapping... Read more →


This is what I paid for a gallon of gas four years ago. It's not quite that cheap right now, but fuel prices here and nationwide are heading down again. Life is full of trade-offs. That includes our tax lives. If you have money in the stock market, the continued declines of asset values are, at best, disconcerting. Uncertainty about the coronavirus, both how quickly it's spreading and questions on how to contain it, have been a major factor in the market's losses. But another factor came into play with today's dive. The biggest oil price crash in decades sent... Read more →


Millions of Americans are self-employed. In the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income count for tax year 2017, more than 26 million of U.S. nonfarm taxpayers filed as sole proprietors, submitting Schedule C along with their annual Form 1040 individual tax returns. The great thing about Schedule C is that is offers lots of ways sole proprietors, of which I'm one, can reduce our gross self-employment earnings. But one of those deductions that many likely claimed on their 2017 Schedule C has in subsequent years become a source of confusion and consternation. The tax break for business meals and entertainment... Read more →


My [too] many medical treatment folders and dedicated medical travel log. (Kay Bell photo) I'm in the tax filing minority. I still itemize. Medical issues are the primary reason I've been filling out Schedule A for the last few years. Not to bore you with the gory details, but recently I've had a couple of medical scares and surgeries. Combine those with the requisite multiple physician follow-ups (this afternoon I'm heading to my fifth of sixth doctor appointments this month), continued testing and, of course, prescriptions and let's just say I'm helping many, many doctors pay off their vacation homes... Read more →