On February 11, 2021, California Representative Jimmy Panetta introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act (E-BIKE Act). The bill is now making its way (slowly) through the committee process in the House.
At CalBike, we’re excited about this federal bill. Although it’s not as progressive as the E-Bike Affordability Program that CalBike is sponsoring in California, it will still have a considerable impact.
What does the federal E-BIKE Act do?
The E-BIKE Act creates a credit against your federal taxes of up to $1,500 per taxpayer. The credit can go toward purchasing one new e-bike with a price tag of $8,000 or less. A Class 1, 2, or 3 e-bike purchase qualifies for the credit.
This tax credit is an essential step toward recognizing e-bikes as a crucial green transportation option.
How is CalBike’s $10M e-bike campaign different from the E-BIKE Act?
CalBike’s campaign for a $10 million e-bike affordability program [link] will provide purchase incentives rather than tax credits. This is a critical distinction because it will give Californians money to buy an e-bike at the time of purchase. Our program will help low-income residents with grants they can use for upfront costs. The E-BIKE Act requires you to come up with the total cost to buy an e-bike; you won’t get the tax credit until the following tax filing season.
The California program can provide $1,000 grants to 10,000 new e-bike riders if the legislature fully funds it. The funding and the number of people who benefit will be capped until the legislature allocates additional money (which we hope they will, once they see the success of the initial program).
The E-BIKE Act tax credits, on the other hand, don’t have a spending cap. They will be available to as many taxpayers across the US as want to use them. Plus, Californians who don’t qualify for or aren’t able to get funding from the state program will still have a helping hand from the federal tax credit.
Two bills are better than one
CalBike will be working hard to pass our AB 117 and fully fund the California program. We will also support our national allies as they advocate to keep the E-BIKE Act strong.
With both programs in place, Californians may be able to combine a state purchase incentive with a federal tax credit to take up to $2,500 off the price of a new e-bike. That will make e-bikes a more affordable transportation option for many more Californians.
The E-BIKE Act is a promising sign of a new attitude about active transportation in D.C. We look forward to more progressive action to mitigate climate change, provide more transportation options, and improve communities.