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Old 12-03-08, 11:48 AM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Tax Break for Bicycle Commuters

From my local paper:

Lewis Clark is hard-core.

A senior network specialist at TDS Telecom in Madison, Clark rides regularly to his office via bicycle -- even when the snow starts to fly.

"There are only two of us here who commute all winter," says Clark, who has a four-mile ride each way to the TDS headquarters on Junction Road.

No wonder Clark is excited over a little-known benefit for bicycle commuters tucked into the $700 billion federal bailout package.

Starting next month, employees who use bikes as their primary means of transportation to work will be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.

Clark is already bugging his company's HR department to take a look into the reimbursement program.

"I'm very curious to see how this is accepted by the big companies, but it's sure something I would like to take advantage of," he says.

Bicycle advocates for years have been trying to get a commuting rebate measure passed in Washington. They finally succeeded in October when Congress rushed through the Wall Street bailout package and legislators squeezed in pet projects.

The League of American Bicyclists estimates the program will cost about $1 million a year due to the new employer write-off. That's not much money in the greater scheme of things but does add some legitimacy to bicycle commuting and gives it credibility as a transportation alternative.

The $20 rebate could be used to, among other things, purchase, store, maintain or repair bikes that are used for a substantial portion of an employee's commute. You wonder if hot coffee is a covered expense?
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Old 12-03-08, 03:20 PM   #2
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What emits more carbon, a properly tuned Prius on a short commute, or a huffing and puffing cyclist covering the same distance?

Support your answer.
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Old 12-03-08, 03:27 PM   #3
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There is a scheme over here- in certain towns- where car parking spaces at work have to pay a tax. Payable by the company and then passed onto the employee as a charge. So what would you rather do? Pay $50 a month to park your car or commute by bus- train or bike? People over here will pay the $50.
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Old 12-03-08, 03:45 PM   #4
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I'll be interested to see if I can use this as a self-employed person.
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Old 12-03-08, 03:49 PM   #5
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So... say I was interested in approaching HR where I work about implementing this as part of their commuter reimbursement program--where can I point them to information about actually getting this going? Not reportage, but actual gov't agency responsible for oversight, where those that do such things could find out how to get in on the scheme--IRS? Transportation?
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Old 12-03-08, 04:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
What emits more carbon, a properly tuned Prius on a short commute, or a huffing and puffing cyclist covering the same distance?

Support your answer.
Not sure where you're headed with this, but carbon emission is only one factor I would consider when looking at the difference between the Prius and a short bicycle commute. The energy and materials needed to produce the Prius far exceeds a bicycle, and the amount of carbon based products needed to lubricate the working/moving parts of the Prius in one year are likely to exceed what a bicycle needs in a lifetime.

Back to the OP. I'd like to believe this is a step in the right direction. Yet, I'm skeptical. It could be a minor concession offered to appease with little intent to make any real or significant change down the line. Does that sound like a comment from someone who has less that a favorable view of most career politicians?

I also wonder how it will work for not-for-profit companies that aren't paying traxes.
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Last edited by NOS88; 12-03-08 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 12-03-08, 04:36 PM   #7
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Won't be happening here. I can't even get my employer to invest in bike racks!!!!
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Old 12-03-08, 04:49 PM   #8
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I wonder how much that is going to cost the accounting dept of the average company. I suspect for it to work, the bicycle commuter is going to have some leverage with the law to force the company to go along with the program.

It is a worthwile, if mostly symbolic, start though.

Just think, we can go a long way toward releaving the downturn in American jobs by creating a whole new division in government.........the "Department Of Urban Bicycle Transportation"...
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Old 12-04-08, 09:59 AM   #9
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I wonder how much that is going to cost the accounting dept of the average company. I suspect for it to work, the bicycle commuter is going to have some leverage with the law to force the company to go along with the program.
It is a worthwile, if mostly symbolic, start though.

Just think, we can go a long way toward releaving the downturn in American jobs by creating a whole new division in government.........the "Department Of Urban Bicycle Transportation"...
Over here the workers have rights. If it is a government backed "Incentive"- your company has to make it available to you.
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