Monday, January 5, 2009

Bicycle Commuter Act went into effect January 1

As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act passed by Congress in October 2008, bicyclists are now eligible for help with the cost of bike commuting. According to

"Section 211 of the 'Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008' allows for a 'qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement' for 'reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.'"

The League of American Bicyclist's Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision: Frequently Asked Questions contains additional information, although the page has not been updated since October.

Is your employer providing this benefit? If not, why not? Have you asked your employer about the act? Do you know of any organization that has implemented a program for providing the benefit? Companies have had since October to research the implications of the act and to set up programs. If they haven't done the work by now, it will take valuable time in 2009 to get programs established, and it will be 2010 before you know it.

According to a news release from Don't Forget to Ask for New Bicycle Commuter Benefit

"'We're hearing that many employers don't know anything about the bicycle commuter provision, or that it went into effect on Jan. 1,' said Peter Harkness, Board of Directors Chair of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking (NCBW)."
Until the IRS issues implementation guidance, few if any employers are likely to offer the new benefit.

Sometimes it takes several months or longer for such guidance to be issued. Once it's out, I'm sure that LAB and many other organizations will promote the benefit heavily.
I thought IRS had already provided the guidance in Publication 15-B (2009), Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, under Transportation (Commuting) Benefits, Qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement:

Do you think more detailed guidance will be forthcoming?

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