Some self-styled reformers say that is wrong. They say the Suburban, because it is an SUV, should be ineligible for the same full deduction as the Silverado.
Their argument may be debatable, but groups such as Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Natural Resources Defense Council have been successful in publicizing their point of view in mainstream media.
If news stories were a proper gauge, we would have to conclude that the most important provision of the giant tax-cut bill that President Bush signed last week was what the reformers call "the SUV loophole" or "the Hummer deduction."
The reality is this: The provision to raise the maximum amount a business can deduct in one year for newly acquired equipment to $100,000 from $25,000 covers all kinds of purchases, from printing presses to dishwashing machines, and not just motor vehicles. And all of the reduced tax revenue from all of those deductions will be just a small fraction - about 3 percent - of the tax bill's estimated 10-year, $350 billion reduction.
One congressional estimate of the savings for the U.S. Treasury if "the SUV loophole" were closed is just $1.3 billion for those 10 years. That $1.3 billion is about four-tenths of 1 percent of the $350 billion.
A reason for the relatively small fiscal impact: Under normal tax provisions, businesses can deduct over time much of the cost of vehicles used for work. Added tax breaks, such as those in the newly passed bill, let them deduct more of it, sometimes all of it, upfront.
Still, because the subject is SUVs, rhetoric gets enflamed.
The critics say a combination of older tax provisions and the new tax breaks means that doctors, lawyers, accountants and others who don't "need" big SUVs for their jobs are getting a subsidy from other taxpayers for purchases of luxury SUVs such as Hummers, Mercedes-Benzes and Land Rovers.