Schumer pushes for transit tax break extension
New York Senator Charles Schumer is calling for the current federal mass transit tax break to be either renewed or made part of the permanent tax code. The tax break is set to expire at the end of the year. The break currently saves mass transit riders more than $1,000 a year in pre-tax commuting benefits. The commuter benefit currently covers up to $230 per month from a person’s gross income to pay for their mass transit commutes and provides parity with a previous benefit extended to drivers’ parking costs. The $230 monthly benefit is an increase from the $120 benefit that was in place until 2009.
Employees whose monthly mass transit fees are less than $230 can currently deduct the full amount of their commuting costs from their paychecks, tax free, through an employer benefit program. The cost is pegged to the IRS tax benefit that covers parking for drivers. Until 2009, commuters who drove to work received a greater tax break than those who took mass transit. In 2009 the mass transit benefit was almost doubled from $120 per month to $230 per month, creating a savings of over $1000 per year for commuters. Currently, 500,000 commuters in the Greater New York Metropolitan Area, and 2.7 million commuters nationwide take advantage of the benefit. Schumer was able to have the benefit extended last year, but it is now set to expire on Dec. 31. Schumer is pushing to make the transit benefit permanent and on par with the benefit extended to drivers.
“The last thing we should be doing in this economy is making it more expensive for New Yorkers to get to work,” said Schumer. “Increasing fares and decreasing incomes mean we need to help stretch every dollar earned by New Yorkers and that includes keeping programs that reduce commuting costs in place. We cannot afford to let this expire.”