As a Bay Area transit rider, you might have been taking advantage of the federal pre-tax commuter benefit. But you might not have heard that Congress let the tax provision expire at the end of 2011 and it is no longer applicable --unless Congress acts to re-establish this important tax benefit. Without an extension commuters will see their maximum subsidy at $125, while the maximum parking benefit will be $240.
With funding dwindling for public transit and highway congestion increasing, now is not the time to discourage use of public transit and its assets. Increased transit ridership financially supports strapped public systems like BART, MUNI and AC Transit. If the federal tax law on fringe benefits doesn’t treat transit and parking equally, it will be like a tax increase on participating transit riders and employers at a time when transit ridership should be encouraged for the environmental, energy, economic, and quality of life benefits that transit provides.
Please let your congressional representatives know you use transit and want the transit commuter benefit to be reinstated as soon as possible. Here are links to find the contact info for your Representative and Senators:
Contact your Congressional Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
Contact your US Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
In 2009, President Obama signed the provision into law that increased the amount of mass transit and vanpool benefits that could be excluded from an employee's gross income. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) the Pre-tax Transit Commuter Benefit, increased the maximum transit benefit for workers -- nearly doubling the amount from $120 per month to $230 per month -- making it equal to the parking benefit and giving people more incentive to use public transportation and vanpools. It was extended at the end of 2010.
There are indications that another extension is on the list of items Congress will attend to when they return from their recess – and this could include making the benefit retroactive to the beginning of this year. But we can't be assured this will happen without public support. It’s time to reenact the pre-tax commuter benefit as a permanent part of the tax code. Please show your support by contacting your elected officials.