Pre-tax transit benefit rolling back in 2012
Photo courtesy of John Walker
Metra riders will face increased commuting costs in 2012 as a result of Congress rolling back the pre-tax transit benefit.
According to the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), while the U.S. Senate agreed to a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday over the weekend, that extension did not include an extension of the transit benefit parity. Unless something unexpected happens before year's end, on Jan. 1, 2012, the maximum amount commuters can set aside pre-tax to cover transit expenses each month will revert back to $125 (the 2009 level, adjusted for inflation), from its current level of $230/month. However, the maximum pre-tax set-aside for parking expenses will increase to $240/month (up from the current level of $230).
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how this transit benefit roll-back will affect Chicago-area commuters. ACT reports that Senate champions are hopeful to re-establish parity between the parking and transit benefits in early 2012. They noted that grassroots organizing efforts, such as www.commuterbenefitsworkforus.com, and more locally, an online advocacy tool provided by Chicagoland's new voice for transit riders Riders for Better Transit, resulted in tens of thousands of letters pouring in, helping achieve bipartisan support from 22 Senators and 50 members of Congress.
We hope the visibility this effort has raised will help increase the numbers of Americans who use the transit benefit. That said, we know our partners will continue to work toward parking and transit benefits parity in 2012, so we encourage you to keep up with the latest on this issue on our web site and theirs in the coming months.