We all know that America has an obesity problem. We know that there are many facets to the issue: diet, exercise, genetics, and various tax breaks for unhealthy processed foods are just a few. Here’s my, half serious, proposal to help address one small facet.

Most people spend a lot of time sitting. We sit in our car, at work, and at home. Some, lucky few have standing or treadmill desks that help keep them active through the day, but most people sit. This sedentary lifestyle is unnatural and we need to move more. Sadly, most of us need motivation and that’s where my half thought out plan comes into action: tax deductions or credits for the active. And we all know, as Americans, we love to be rewarded for things we already do or should do

What’s a deduction or credit?

For those who don’t know the distinction between a deduction or a credit I will give you the quick non legalese definitions. A credit reduces the amount of taxes owed and is usually like a reward. Think of the hybrid/electric car credit. A deduction reduces the amount of taxable income and is usually based on a cost. The most common deduction you’ll hear about is a mileage deduction when using your vehicle for work. This particular deduction will be the one I use for my proposal. (I’m sure someone with accounting knowledge will correct me or go into greater detail. There’s always Google)

The brass tax of it all

The 2016 mileage rate is $0.54/mile. The rate changes year to year but is intended to cover things like wear and tear and fuel. This rate is excessive for walking but I’m gonna use it to illustrate how big of an effect this can have. I will be using my Fitbit data from February 2016 for my math.

In February I walked 195.71 miles. Like taxes, we’ll round to the nearest whole number making it 196 miles walked/run. For simplicity, let’s assume I walk that amount exactly every month for all of 2016 bringing my total mileage to 2,352 miles. At a rate of $0.54/mile that makes a deduction/credit of $1,270. I don’t know about you, but nearly $1,3000 is nothing to sneeze at.

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How to track this

There are a ton of personal fitness trackers on the market that can be had for a good price. My brand of choice is Fitbit. I know iPhones have the ability to track distance travelled as well. I’m not sure about android phones.

Glaring problem

Fraud. Any time money is involved, there will be people who will cheat the system. That’s where audits come in. Just like with any other credit or deduction, you have to prove your mileage. That’s why things like Fitbits or the iPhone tracking are so great. I’m sure every company would get on board quickly with making some sort of yearly form. No one would want to be the company that doesn’t help its customers get money.

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Don't ban cars. Encourage healthy choices. Give people freedom of choice instead of a dictatorship.