There is no shortage of tax rules that address energy and natural resources in some manner. There are taxes on most types of fuel, tax credits for energy saving devices, and various tax incentives to encourage specified activities such as use of LED lighting or energy efficient heaters. In addition, numerous proposals are offered annually by lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels that also address conservation, energy and innovation in conservation and energy-efficiencies.

How do we know if existing rules and proposals are appropriate for a tax system? Principles of good tax policy can be applied to them to identify strengths, weaknesses and how to improve the rules and proposals. This article explains the principles of good tax policy, provides an example of their application and makes several suggestions of how this type of analysis can be incorporated into any classroom learning on green building topics. This exercise is not only for students with tax knowledge, but also engineers, scientists, architects, environmentalists, as well as everyone in our roles of citizen and voter.

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Author notes

1. Professor, San Jose State University College of Business, and, [email protected].