Members of the Commuter Benefits Work for Us Coalition convened in Washington, D.C., recently to meet with members of Congress to seek support for the Commuter Parity Act of 2013. This legislation would establish permanent parity between the transit and parking portions of the commuter benefit. The event will be highlighted by a press conference held by the legislation’s primary sponsors, Representatives Michael Grimm (R-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and James McGovern (D-MA). The press conference was held at the Capitol grounds “Triangle” area.
Coalition members highlighted the importance of enacting legislation to avoid a significant decrease in the transit portion of the commuter benefit on January 1, 2014. The current monthly pre-tax limit for the federal transit and parking commuter benefits is $245 per month. However, without Congressional action by the end of this year, the transit benefit will drop to $125 per month, while the parking benefit will remain the same. Failure to maintain parity between the parking and transit portions of the commuter benefit would result in an unfair policy that would encourage commuters to drive to work alone, rather than use public transportation.
"Bringing permanent parity between transit and parking benefits just makes sense. Equalizing the playing field will provide a more consistent opportunity for much-needed savings for both public transit riders and their employers. Without it, commuters are financially penalized for taking public transit, easing congested roads and reducing harmful carbon emissions" said Dan Neuburger, president, WageWorks Commuter Services. "Everyone can benefit from Congress passing the Commuter Parity Act."
The transit portion of the commuter benefit is an important tax measure that provides an incentive for commuters to use public transportation and saves millions of hard working American families money on their daily commute. Use of the benefit helps to reduce traffic congestion, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil imports and preserve our environment. Businesses that offer the benefit to their employees also save money due to a reduction in the amount of payroll taxes they must pay for workers who participate in the program.
The Coalition looks forward to the opportunity to educate members of Congress on the importance of the transit commuter benefit on behalf of the more than 2 million users of the program nationwide. Supporters of the benefit have sent nearly 100,000 letters to members of Congress in support of this legislation through the coalition’s website, www.commuterbenefitsworkforus.com. We would also like to thank Representatives Grimm, McGovern King, and Blumenauer for their outstanding leadership in ensuring that transit commuters continue to be treated fairly in the United States tax code.