Nationwide E-Bike Tax Credit Bill Returns to Congress

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A bill to create economic incentives for e-bike purchases already does one thing well: making an acronym out of the word e-bike.

The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act first arrived in Congress in 2021. Like most bills that come to America’s legislative chambers, it never passed into law. But five politicians and bike industry advocates hope that 2023 will be the year Americans get tax credits for buying electric bicycles, according to a statement from industry advocate PeopleForBikes.

For the bill’s sponsors, getting more cars off the road is a clear win for reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

“Transitioning to a clean energy economy includes changing the way we get around. That means transit, rail, and electric buses, cars, and bikes. Our bill will make it more affordable for working people to buy an e-bike and help get cars off the road,” said Senator Brian Schatz, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Other bill supporters include Representatives Jimmy Panetta (California), Earl Blumenauer (Oregon), Mike Thompson (California), and Adam Schiff (California).

E-bikes parked for a sharing program
An office worker takes an e-bike from the bicycle sharing programs that have become common in many cities; (photo/Shutterstock)

Bill: $1,500 Credit for E-Bike Purchase

The E-BIKE Act hasn’t really changed from its 2021 version, according to PeopleForBikes.

It proposes a refundable 30% tax credit for purchasing an electric bicycle — up to a $1,500 credit for new bicycles that cost less than $8,000. The credit would be allowed once per individual every three years or twice for a joint-return couple buying two electric bicycles.

There’s one addition to the 2023 bill, however: income caps. These limits parallel the electric vehicle tax credit caps. That means no tax credit for those with an annual salary of $150,000 for single filers, $225,000 for heads of households, or $300,000 for those filing jointly. The bill also mandates a report from the IRS after two years to understand the distribution of the credit by income tax bracket and adjust for equity in the future, according to PeopleForBikes.

An electric bicycle tax credit was included in the House-approved Build Back Better Act in 2021. But legislators cut the provision when negotiations resulted in a new bill called the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The IRA is the largest climate policy package in American history, but to quickly and effectively take action on reducing emissions, Congress must consider the E-BIKE Act as an essential and complementary policy,” PeopleForBikes wrote.

Local Governments Take Action

While the federal government has stalled, some states and cities have introduced their own e-bike incentives.

Denver started an e-bike voucher program in 2022, resulting in 4,734 residents buying electric bicycles. Local officials say they’ve already seen results. According to a joint report from the city and bike groups, about 71% of program participants drove less after the purchase. Furthermore, 90% said they rode the bike at least weekly.

“The success of the Denver rebate program — and its clear impact on reducing transportation emissions — suggests that policymakers need to take e-bikes much more seriously as a climate action tool,” Ben Holland, urban transportation manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which collaborated on the report, said in a statement.

Electric bicycles help democratize our streets and make active transportation an option for more Americans, PeopleForBikes said. The organization is asking supporters to sign an online petition demanding passage of the E-BIKE Act.

“The E-BIKE Act rightfully positions electric bicycles as a critical part of a larger solution to climate change and equitable mobility,” said PeopleForBikes CEO Jenn Dice. “We’re grateful to our climate leaders in Congress leading the charge on e-bikes.”

Feeling stoked about e-bikes? Use the link below to check out GearJunkie’s list of the best options on the market.

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