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California bill would implement car-free tax-credit program

California Senate Bill 457, authored by State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) creates a rebate program for each person without a car in a household. It is currently awaiting action in the Assembly. The bill is aimed at reducing California’s dependence on cars, providing more incentives for walking and bicycling, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

SB 457 would allow a credit—for taxable years beginning on or after 1 January 2023—against the “net tax”, in an amount of $2,500 for each household member that exceeds the number of registered vehicles. The bill would limit the amount of the credit allowed to $7,500 and would take effect immediately as a tax levy.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Studies show that exposure to particulate matter (PM) from cars, trucks, and buses is not equally distributed across the state. The lowest-income households in the California live where PM pollution is 10% higher than the state average, while those with the highest incomes live where PM pollution is 13% below the state average.

With 26.87 million registered automobiles in the state, California has implemented policies designed to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Among those initiatives, an income tax credit in the amount of 20% of the vehicle cost is available to individuals who purchase or lease a new zero emissions vehicle. However, evidence shows that electric cars still emit PM particles.

SB 457 invests in the future by encouraging Californians to use public transit, cycling, scootering, walking, and other sustainable modes to get around. It is beyond time to support families who choose the safest, most sustainable option, not owning a vehicle at all.

—Bubba Fish, Legislative Advocate at Streets for All, a sponsor of SB 457


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