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NEW: Congressman McGovern Fights for Commuter Benefits

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

 

Flickr: marioanima

Worcester Congressman James McGovern is pushing Congress to extend tax benefits for commuters in a new transportation authorization bill.

“Making parity permanent is about basic fairness in our tax policy,” McGovern said. “It’s also about incentivizing good transportation practices. We all know too many of our roads and bridges are crumbling. And I can’t think of anyone who enjoys being stuck in traffic on their daily commute. The transit benefit is one way to help alleviate those problems and get our transportation system back on track as the best, most efficient system in the world.”

Under current laws, commuters who drive to work and park may receive up to $240 in pre-tax benefits per month from their employer. Those opting for alternative transportation, however, such as the T, subways, buses or van pools, saw their benefit drop from $230 to $125 in January. Conversely, motorists driving to work and parking were eligible for an increased monthly parking benefit at the start of the year because of an automatic cost-of-living adjustment.

“Here in Massachusetts, transportation costs account for an average of 30 percent of a family’s household budget,” according to Randy Johnson, vice president of Edenred, a leading national provider of commuter benefit programs. “Whether work is 10 blocks, 20 minutes or 45 miles away, commuting is a matter of choices and options. Transit benefits are an effective way for employers to provide relief to their employees.” 
Employers throughout Massachusetts currently utilize the transit benefit to attract and retain employees and reduce their environmental impacts on their communities.

“The commuter benefit program has been very convenient for our employees to use and has been a key benefit for us to attract the best talent,” said Mike Neville, Manager of Finance for Police, Security, & Outside Services at Mass General Hospital. “For our employees who commute from Grafton to downtown, the reduction in the monthly cap will cost many of them almost $500 in taxes this year.”

Added Paul Dean, Vice President of TransitCenter: “A tax policy that rewards drivers and penalizes those who choose public transportation makes no sense. Transit use helps to reduce congestion, preserve the environment, and reduce our nation's reliance on foreign oil imports. Congress needs to act now to pass … legislation to restore parity between the parking and transit commuter benefits." 

 

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