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Your help is needed this week on restoring the transit commuter benefit.
Via: National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA)

The Commuter Tax Benefit program allows commuters the opportunity to pay for a portion of their commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars. As of January 2014, federal tax law allows commuters to set aside $250 for qualified parking expenses (an increase over the previous year). But workers who use public transit saw their monthly limit shrink from $245 to $130 per month.

This imbalance in the tax code means that transit users could pay as much as $565 in higher taxes annually, while creating a perverse favoritism in the tax code for automobile commuters. As fellow transit advocates, we need you to email your Members of Congress external link and ask that this commuter tax imbalance be fixed…

Your help is needed this week on restoring the transit commuter benefit.
We’re urging Congress to restore parity between commuter tax benefits for transit and auto users before the start of the next tax year, and to have such equity applied beyond 2015. The Commuter Benefit should be consistent across modes of travel. Here’s why we think a fair Commuter Benefit makes good policy:

  1. It would provide relief to commuters in rural areas who rely on vanpooling as a vital link to access jobs, healthcare, and education;
  2. Allow commuters to choose the travel mode that is right for their household;
  3. Give equal commuter tax benefits to workers who rely on transit and may not have access to a car, many of who may be lower wage workers; and
  4. Encourage commuters to choose transit which reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, saves energy, and decreases fossil fuel imports.

Last week, the House passed the Tax Extenders Bill including a provision to restore parity to the parking-transit commuter benefit for 2014. We need to act now to ensure that the Senate includes this provision in its version of the bill. And we need to let Congress know that we appreciate their support for this important tax benefit, and urge them to make it permanent.

Please join us in calling on Congress to fix this unfair disparity that does not make sense.

Take Action

Email your Members of Congress external link today that you support restoring parity in the tax code between the commuter and parking pre-tax benefits permanently.

Help spread the word by letting your coalition members and colleagues know about the need for Congress to restore equity in the tax code for all commuters.

Thanks for your attention to this important issue!

— 2 Comments —

  1. here’s the response I got from Schumer’s office:

    Thank you for writing to express your support for establishing parity between the parking and mass transit portions of the commuter benefit. I wholeheartedly agree and successfully pushed to include commuter benefit parity in the EXPIRE Act (Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency), legislation which passed the Senate Finance Committee.

    The mass transit benefit puts money back into the pockets of New York commuters and provides a needed investment in our mass transit systems. An estimated 700,000 New York-area mass transit commuters saved more than $330 million through the benefit last year.

    The parking portion of the commuter benefit is indexed for inflation at a much higher rate than the mass transit benefit. With the increase in transportation expenses, legislation has been needed to provide parity between these two tax incentives. In 2009, I authored an amendment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which established commuter benefit parity at $230 per month. After that act expired, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8) included a provision that re-established parity between the parking and transit benefits at $245 per month through 2013. In December 2013, the Senate minority prevented the passage of the Tax Extenders Act of 2013 (S.1859), which would have extended this provision through 2014. As a result, the parity between the parking and mass transit portions expired and the mass transit benefit dropped to $130 a month.

    Last June, I introduced the Commuter Benefits Equity Act (S.1116), which would permanently equalize the tax exclusion for both mass transit and parking fringe benefits at $245, with a cost-of-living adjustment after 2013. This legislation was referred to the Committee on Finance. As a member of this committee, I will continue to monitor this important legislation as it makes its way through the Senate.

    Additionally, I pushed for inclusion of a provision to provide commuter benefit parity at $250 a month in the EXPIRE Act (S.2260). The EXPIRE Act was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee on April 3, 2014 and is awaiting consideration on the Senate floor. If passed, the EXPIRE Act would restore parity to the commuter benefit retroactively, and extend parity through 2015.

    Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance on this or any other matter.

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