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Commuter Checks for bicycling now available

by Richard Masoner

All of the pre-tax employee transit benefits I’ve seen have been in the form of “Commuter Check” programs that are outsourced to third party benefit providers hired by human resources departments to handle the paperwork and distribute the transit benefits in the form of “Commuter Checks” that are redeemable at transit agencies.

One of these benefit providers, Accor Services, now has bicycling commuter checks available for the month of March for employers that provide this benefit.

The new solution supports the expansion of the Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit (IRS Tax Code Section 132(f)) to allow bicycle commuters to designate pre-tax salary deductions of up to $240 per year. Individuals can now designate up to $20.00 per month as a pre-tax salary deduction to pay for the cost of commuting via bicycle. This includes the cost of bicycles, bicycling equipment and accessories, and storage unit costs.

Similar to current Commuter Check programs for public transit and parking, employers can offer the bicycling benefit as a pre-tax salary deduction, saving on taxes for the individual and the company or as a subsidy, which is also tax deductible for the company.

“As an organization whose mission is to promote bicycling, we are pleased to see bicycling commute expenses now officially recognized as a commuting expense that qualifies for the transportation fringe benefit,” said League of American Bicyclists Advocacy Director Walter P. Finch. “Further, we are thrilled that a leader in commuter benefits and the only national commuter benefits provider, Commuter Check, was first to step up to the plate to offer a program to enable employers and their employees to take advantage of the benefit.”

According to Accor, the bicycling commuter can use the bicycle Commuter Checks at any bicycle shop and bicycle parking and storage locations across the United States.

More at Commuter Check.

 
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9 Responses to “Commuter Checks for bicycling now available”

  1. Brian says:

    Very cool. I actually just checked with my employer about our provider, Wageworks, doing this, but they said they were not planning on offering it this year. Bummer. My employer may yet do something on its own though.

  2. David says:

    Total no-go with my company. They are not interested. The aarcor suggestions to convince companies are not professional enough to present to my company. Unless this is something like a FLEX medical account, it ain’t happening. Now, if it was a Flex account, I would have no trouble spending it. Additionally, the local shop here is not up on this either… Kind of a flop if you ask me.

  3. Cycle16v says:

    Let me see if I get this right. If your company doesn’t sponsor this legislation, you get nothing? I assumed it was your right as a bike commuter to claim this benefit.

    No options at all?

  4. David says:

    Seems to be that way to me. I’d like to hear of someone that is using the program.

  5. Fritz says:

    Employers can either choose to offer this benefit or not, same as any other Section 132 transportation fringe benefit.

    Weird about it not being “profesional” enough because it’s easier to set up than a Flex account — way fewer paperwork requirements.

  6. David says:

    I looked at the Aarcor suggestions to present it to your company (to get them to start with the program). My company does offer transit benefits in Washinton, DC and other large cities, but, apparently, not where I live. I wanted to present them with something serious, and the Aarcor suggestions were not something I would present to my employer. I certainly hope it becomes widespread and I hope the LBS figure it out.

  7. Dave says:

    What I meant by a FLEX account: If you could check a box on your employment forms to designate a portion of your taxes that would be put into a BIKE account that had to be spent every year. Something like that, simple and available to everyone. I just don’t think it’s on 85% of employer’s radar screens. In this economy, the last thing most employers are thinking about is the few employees that ride their bikes to work.

  8. Rich says:

    What about the self employed?

  9. Eve says:

    “Bicycle expenses have been recently added as an eligible expense for pre-tax commuter benefits. However, this new
    eligibility is not yet supported through this program.”

    This was on the WageWorks site under “what’s covered” – it’s there, just not active yet.

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