Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Keywords

Internal Revenue Code, I.R.C. section 179, tax deductions, SUV loophole, carbon audit, anti-green tax breaks, tax policy

Abstract

Congress and the Treasury have commissioned the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) “to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects.” The hope of the proponents of the NAS carbon audit is that Congress, once informed of the results of the audit, will respond by “greening” the Internal Revenue Code. This Essay cautions that a more environmentally friendly Code will not necessarily follow from the legislative consciousness-raising of the carbon audit. It offers the story of the “SUV loophole” as a case study in the difficulty of removing environmentally offensive provisions from the tax laws, even when Congress is well aware of the existence of those provisions.