Friday, April 11, 2008

Those Bloomin' Taxes

I should be working on my tax return, but dang it, I haven't filed away any paperwork since last June, so I first have to sort through a foot-tall pile of paper. True to form, I'm procrastinating. Which is just how I got into this pickle in the first place.

One of the other annoyances of tax season is how it coincides with planting season. This morning I said to heck with the taxes and planted some sweet pea seeds. Then I came inside and read about a nifty proposal that would give tax breaks for gardening! Well, not necessarily for planting sweet peas (they're poisonous) but for growing food in our yards, similar to the Victory Gardens in WWI, except this time with a little tax incentive.

Writing in Alternet, Roger Doiron says:
I am proposing that home growers finally catch a break. Not from bugs, weather, or clunky garden shoes, but from taxes. It's not as silly an idea as it may sound. We give tax breaks to people to encourage them to put hybrid cars in their garages and solar panels on their roofs, so why not offer incentives for solar-powered, healthy food production in their backyard? ...

More home gardens would offer us victory not only over rising food and health care costs, but also foreign oil dependency and climate change. Researcher estimate that locally-grown foods use up to 17 times less climate-warming, fossil fuels than foods from away. And when it comes to local foods, it doesn’t get any “localer” than one’s own yard.
Doiron would have the government waive taxes on gardening supplies and - more significantly - offer an income tax deduction for a kitchen garden (or for rental of a community garden plot) similar to the break for a home office, based on square footage.

This is such a cool and clever idea. It won't save the earth all on its own. But as the price of oil climbs ever higher, it might help ease the transition to the more local world that we'll all be forced to inhabit in the future. Less lofty - but no less important - more people might discover the pleasures of perfectly fresh vegetables: tender-crisp baby lettuce, sun-warmed tomatoes, sweet buttery purple-podded beans.

By that way, that sweet feline pansy pictured above, taunting those of you who are still digging out from winter? It survived from last fall, along with most of its companions, under layers of snow and discouragement. And since it's a pansy, it's edible - though this particular specimen probably has too much dirt-and-oil grime from the street in front of my house.

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