Saturday, October 04, 2008

Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters?

Not trying be political but as some of you know we here in the US are undergoing a economic crunch and our government has decided to bailout those institutions that got us here, that is if any of them are still around by the time the money starts flowing. The big bailout bill, in order to get it to pass, as I have been reading, contains quite a bit of Pork-Barrel spending, or more commonly known as Pork.

I think I had read on BikesnobNYC a comment about part of the bail out package included a benefit to bicycle commuters so I decided to look it up. I found this website run by the Taxpayers for Common Sense that lists the Top 10 Tax Sweeteners in the Bailout Bill. One of these sweeteners that is of interest to the Snack is this one in Section 211:
Sec. 211. Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters

Allows employers to provide a benefit to employees for costs associated with bicycle commuting, including purchase and repair of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, and bicycle storage. This provision was proposed in 2007 in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). This provision is estimated to cost $10 million.
Clearly aimed at the State of Oregon, which is probably the bicycle commuting capital of the US. However, this part-time bicycle commuter wants to know is can he benefit from this because it's now a law? It sounds like the answer is no, as a direct benefit, because further research has revealed the way it works is that your company has to provide you, the bicycle commuter, with a benefit for riding to work. Then the company can get a tax benefit for doing so.

For smaller companies, this might be easy to do, but if you work for a large conglomerate then it could be much harder. Since the next big thing in our economy could be Green Economics maybe companies will be more likely to offer this to their employees. I will certainly inquire within my company as to whether they offer something or start offering this now that it's available. I guess if you want to be green you got to do green things.

I wonder which companies already give a benefit to bicycle commuters, especially those that are not in Oregon? I doubt any company offers this in Sub-rural-urbia. If you are reading this, ask your company human resources representative and see what they say. Put it into a suggestion box at work. Can't hurt to try and use the caveat that it will help the company to become more green!

Important Update: Section 211 of the Bail Out Bill as it relates to Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f) - Qualified Transportation Fringe.

1 comment:

Bill Moore said...

I would talk exception to the McCain-ite term 'pork barrel.' If you look at the provisions of HR 1424, you'll see that a fair share of them encourage energy conservation, renewable energy, bicycle commuting, plug-in cars, and extensions of all kinds of tax exemptions for you and me Taxpayer. If these are pork, then we're all feeding at that trough.