Joan Michelson, Contributor
Aug. 19, 2022
Because women have more financial power today, and are marrying later in life (if at all), the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed into law this week may be particularly good for women.
That’s because the new legislation focuses on three of women’s most significant expenses: homes, cars and prescription drugs.
More single women are buying homes
New research by First American found that more single women owned homes in 2021 than single men. A similar study by The National Association of Realtors earlier this year found that 19% of homebuyers in 2021 were single women, versus only 9% were single men. Married couples still make up the lion’s share of homebuyers, almost 70%, so the women in those couples are driving homebuying and home-equipping decisions too. (Statistica reports that there are 61.5 million married couples in the U.S. as of 2021, and the Census Bureau found that nearly 1 million are same-sex couples.)
Realtor.com reports that the IRA provides about $1.6 million in tax breaks for homeowners. Therefore, the potential tax and cost savings – including reductions in home energy costs – for women homeowners is substantial.
These include a 30% federal tax break for rooftop solar, and up to 30% savings on heat pumps, for clothes dryers, for example. Then there are the Energy Star appliances that can garner a $2,500 tax credit, or even more if they meet the Department of Energy’s Energy Ready Homes program requirements. The IRA also provides a $1,600 offset to the cost of insulation and sealing leaky windows and doors, to reduce the home’s energy use. (Other new federal funding the Biden Administration released this year helps reduce energy costs for low-income housing too.)
More women are drivers. And Reese Witherspoon is helping market electric vehicles to them.
“There are 1.4 million more women who are licensed to drive than men. Women also tend to purchase more new cars than used ones, with 62% of new cars in the country being purchased by women,” according to car information site CJ’s Pony Parts. Motor City’s Detroit Free Press says women “make or influence 85% of all new vehicle sales.” If any of those women buy EVs, the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act will reduce their costs.
Even Reese Witherspoon — the Oscar-winning actor, producer and founder of Hello Sunshine production company – is in the car business now, producing ads to women for General Motors’ Buick brand, including for Buick’s Wildcat electric concept car (above). With 56% of its new car sales going to women, Buick sells more cars to women than any other brand.
Like all GM models, Buick is focused on fulfilling GM CEO Mary Barra’s commitment to only manufacture and distribute electric vehicles by 2030. GM Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Telva McGruder explained how that they are doing this $35 billion transition on Electric Ladies Podcast recently.
EVs sales are growing, jumping year-over-year, yet are still only about 12.6% of the U.S. vehicle market. The tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act could boost the number of EVs sales, including by women.
One hurdle women especially still have is “range anxiety,” which is fear of running out of charge and being stranded, but the quantity of EV charging stations to address this is proliferating rapidly. Private companies, automakers, and the government are all investing in them, including with funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill signed into law earlier this year.
And more women take prescription drugs
The provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act on prescription drugs for seniors will help women more than men – including the ones to cap insulin costs, enable Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, and to cap prescription costs at $2,000/per person per person – because there are more women over 60 than men in the U.S. and women take more prescription drugs.
The Census Bureau reports that 24.6% of people over 60 in the U.S. are women, and 21.1% are men, and a 2020 study by the National Institutes of Health found that more women take prescription drugs than men. “A total of 3,899,360 patients received at least one prescription of drugs, of whom 54.2% were females and 45.8% were males and the number of prescriptions was greater in females than males (55.6% vs. 44.4%, respectively),” the study said.
Whether the Inflation Reduction Act ultimately boosts any individual woman’s bottom line is for her to determine, but any help to reduce our costs – and help reduce energy use at the same time – is welcome.
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