clip_image002I must have walked on the streets after sundown at least 200 times last year, with the sidewalks well lit, helping me find my way. I did my fair share of driving on roads and crossed a few bridges. I took many walks down pretty paths in public parks, admiring a variety of horticulture. I was excited at least 4 times hoping that scientific research may shed light on the purpose of human existence. My loans from the state school I attended are not psychologically or financially overwhelming me. I voted, swam at the beach, drank tap water – Oh! – and last year was the first time I called 911.

clip_image0021It was one of the most satisfying experiences to date. My neighbors had a get together and by about 3 am it had devolved into a bottle throwing game, many of which were breaking on my building. I mean, I’ve broken bottles in my day, but I’ve done so with respect, and intention. There was none of that here, just idiocy, and that is what made me the most upset. So I dialed 911 and told the person on the other end of the line what was happening. After about 15 minutes, 10 really big guys with guns showed up and made them stop throwing bottles at my house. I couldn’t believe how user friendly this service was and it was totally free. Amazing, that alone has got to be worth a couple of hundred dollars. How many places in the world have a service like that?!

In any case, what I’m saying is that, I guess I don’t really mind paying my taxes. For the most part I can see a good deal of value. Of course it’susamnot always so easy on the conscience, paying for those things which our real freedoms rely: bailouts, torture, surveillance, mothers of all bombs, and barbed wire. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to choose from a cafeteria plan as to where our tax money would go, earmarking our share for programs we want? But that’s not here yet. So instead I’ll try to be happy about a number of tax incentives which help battle my pessimism by encouraging people to do the right thing, especially during these economic woes. Specifically, there are tax incentives to reduce energy waste and switch to green technology. Yes, the US government and many state governments will give you money to go green. Here are the most recent additions and a few you might even be in a position to take advantage of, this year or next:

The federal Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 allows a $500 credit for installing energy efficient measures for 2009. Covered technologies include water heaters, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, building insulation, windows, doors, roofs, and circulating fans used in a qualifying furnace. The Act also extends a 30% credit for solar energy systems, solar hot water heaters and fuel cells through 2016. While it’s a little superfluous to continue any credits past 2012, such a nice discount might help facilitate that purchase you’ve been thinking about. And if it pushes people and corporations in the right direction, that’s great!

The Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion, allows you to exclude from personal income any subsidies from utility companies used to aid in the purchase or installation of a product used to help conserve energy. Its like saying out of state purchases over the internet for green items is exempt from sales tax.

If you are thinking about a new car the Tax Credit for Qualified Hybrid Vehicles might be the icing on the cake for that purchase you’ve been planning! Credits can range up to $3400! Be sure to do your research, get the proper dealer and IRS forms and watch out for the AMT. For more information and to see the qualifications check out the IRS summary.

Individual states also offer a wide variety of incentives for going green. Some in New York include credits for heating with Bio-Diesel, exemptions from property and sales tax for purchases and upgrades to greener technology. In Massachusetts you’ll be exempt from personal income from the sale of a patent or royalty income from a patent if its deemed “beneficial for energy conservation or alternative energy development.” Good to consider if you have an invention in the works. In California there are a number of local loan programs that extend favorable terms if you want to borrow money for the installation of renewable energy systems. Be sure to check out what your state offers in green breaks!

On the corporate side there are even more incentives for homebuilders, manufacturers, building owners and other entities to improve their behaviors when it comes to energy use. Both federal and state governments offer many grant and bond programs for a variety of different projects. If you’re thinking of starting a business, there could be many ways to help subsidize the startup costs just by doing the right thing.

As loop-holey and esoteric as some of these rules may be, going green has made it in the tax code and it appears that its likely to increase under the new administration. Its makes me feel better that change is happening for the better and hopefully moves like these will make more people switch to green!  Its moves like these that make a difference in the end, plus it can’t hurt to save a buck or to yourself! The existence of these incentives helps ease my negative energy toward taxes and government, not unlike calling 911 and obtaining satisfaction.