Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Modifications to bicycle commuter tax benefit law introduced

The Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit has been in place since January 2009. Bicycle commuters who bike 3 or more times a week for a month can receive $20 toward bike commuting expenses. Unfortunately not many companies have implemented the benefit. It cannot be used in conjunction with the transit benefit. It's not easy to implement.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced the bill that became the Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit. He understands the limitations of the law and wants to make changes. He is sponsoring the Commuter Relief Act:
For bike commuters, the Commuter Relief Act would:
  • Increase the amount of the bike commuter benefit from $20 to $40 a month.
  • Allow bike commuters to combine the bike commuter benefit with other fringe benefits — up to $200. For example, You could use the $40 bike benefit and collect up to $160 of your public transit benefit.
In addition, the Commuter Relief Act would:
  • Cap all transportation fringe benefits at $200 a month (the parking benefit is currently $230, the transit cap will drop to $130 at the end of 2011).
  • Allow self-employed people to receive transit fringe benefits for work-related commuting.
  • Require employers offering a parking transportation fringe benefit to also offer employees the option to take cash instead. This would create an incentive for more people to leave the car at home and take cheaper options, like transit, biking, and walking.
  • Create a 10 percent tax credit for vanpool expenditures
Congressman Moran is also sponsoring the bill
"With the some of the worst traffic in the nation, Northern Virginians are no strangers to wasting gasoline while sitting in rush hour traffic," said Moran. "Providing incentives for commuters to carpool, bike, or take public transportation is not only good for our environment, but for our pocketbooks. It’s one of the best ways we can address traffic congestion in the region."

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