Transit tax benefit increased to $245 per month; local transit riders and vanpoolers eligible for benefit
From SANDAG Reports
The financial incentive for commuters to use mass transit has just gotten a lot bigger. Under the fiscal cliff legislation approved by Congress earlier this month, commuters who ride public transit or use vanpools to get to work may be eligible for up to $245 per month in pre-tax transit benefit. That’s an increase of 196 percent, up from $125 per month.
For 2013, workers whose employers choose to offer the transit benefit can now set aside up to $245 per month through pre-tax payroll deductions to cover public transit or vanpooling costs. If they work for a company that subsidizes their commute costs, they can receive up to $245 from their employer as a non-taxable fringe benefit.
“This is a great program that employers can use to put a little extra cash in their employees’ wallets. And it’s not just employees who save money, employers do as well, in the form of lower payroll taxes,” said SANDAG Principal Planner Ray Traynor, head of the SANDAG iCommute program. “In addition, the San Diego region as a whole benefits from reduced traffic when commuters choose to leave their car at home and use alternative transportation.”
The iCommute program provides a wide range of free assistance to workers and employers, encouraging the use of public transit, vanpools, and other green commute choices. SANDAG staff help employers establish commuter programs.
For more information about the transit benefit and the subsidized regional vanpool program, visit theiCommute website. Commuters or employers can lease a vehicle through one of the iCommute contracted vanpool vendors and receive up to $400 per month to help offset the cost of the lease. The program has more than 700 vanpools.
Additional benefits and incentives are available through iCommute. The program sponsors monthly prize drawings for commuters who use sustainable modes to get to school or work and log their trips in the iCommute TripTracker.
In the San Diego region, commuters who carpool, vanpool, take a Premium Express Bus, ride the COASTER, walk, or bike to work three or more times a week also are eligible for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program. In the event of an emergency or unscheduled overtime, commuters enrolled in the program can get a taxi ride home or a 24-hour car rental for a $3 co-pay.
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