“Clean energy tax credits overwhelmingly go to high-income households,” said Lucas Davis, a professor of business and economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

By Shannon Osaka, Grist

If the Build Back Better Act, Democrats’ $2.2 trillion climate and social welfare bill, passes the Senate later this month, it will come with thousands of dollars in incentives and tax credits for electric cars, solar panels, heat pumps, e-bikes, and even electric motorcycles. A family could get up to $12,500 off an electric car; the federal government would also pay for up to 30 percent of a home installation of solar panels; and individuals who purchase e-bikes could get a credit of up to $900. More than ever before, taxpayers will be incentivized to adopt low-carbon lifestyles: eschewing gas-guzzlers for electric vehicles, putting in energy-efficient windows, or even installing miniature wind turbines on top of their homes.

Build Back Better
Photo by Adam Schultz

But will people actually use that money? Researchers say that is the big question. Existing tax credits have significant drawbacks. For one, financial incentives alone are rarely enough to get consumers to go electric or give their homes a green upgrade while low-income households face particular hurdles: Many don’t make enough money to take advantage of the tax credits, or live in rented homes that can’t be easily upgraded.

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