December 9, 2014
At the beginning of 2014, workers who use  public transit saw the pre-tax monthly limit on the transit portion of the Commuter Benefit shrink from $245 to $130 per month, while workers who drive and pay for parking saw their benefits rise to $250 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 commuting.

Last week, the House  passed the Tax Extenders Bill including a provision to restore parity between   the parking and transit commuter tax benefit for 2014. The change to the transit provision of the commuter benefit in the Tax Extenders Bill was retroactive for 2014, like all of the provisions for 2014. However, due to the way that the benefits are administered, transit commuters will likely not be able to take advantage of them. Experts on the legislation indicated its inclusion even retroactively is beneficial for future efforts to make benefit parity permanent.

Here’s why we think working towards permanent benefit parity makes good policy:

  • It would provide relief to commuters in rural areas who rely on vanpooling as a vital link to access jobs, healthcare, and education;
  • Allow commuters to choose the travel mode that is right for their household;
  • 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
  • Encourage commuters to choose transit which reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, saves energy, and decreases fossil fuel imports.

The NAPTA Advisory   Board asks that transit advocates continue to urge Congress to pass  legislation making benefit parity permanent.

Take Action:

  • Email        your Members of Congress that you support restoring parity in the tax code between the commuter and parking benefits.
  • Help spread the word by letting your coalition members and colleagues know about the need for Congress to restore equity for all commuters in the tax code.