Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Joni Mitchell and capital depreciation schedules

Joni Mitchell, who wrote the song with the lyrics "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot", may not have realized her connection to obscure tax code provisions. Brian Leiter, a professor from the University of Texas, might see it.

Leiter reports on a proposal to accelerate capital depreciation schedules to a single year, which he says will have the effect of creating a tax profit off of money-losing speculative ventures, such as pink hotels, swinging hot spots, and associated parking lots. Interestingly, he states the schedule was made much shorter in 1954, near the beginning of America's post-war sprawl expansion. Leiter warns that writing off costs in a single year would make things much worse, manipulating the tax code in a way that rewards bad economic decision-making and environmental destruction.

Joni Mitchell's lyrics are here. Land use and tax policy advocates need to work together to avoid the problem she describes.


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