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bailout bill includes bike benefits

Old 10-06-08, 03:11 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
Does your employer pay taxes? That's what this all does, right, offsets employer's taxes?
If a company offers this in 2009 as an extra fringe benefit above an beyond what you normally would get, they are out up to $240 less their tax savings, so it is indeed an extra expense for them. And you get an extra $240 that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise, plus some tax savings. Not tons of money, but enough to make most of us happier and feel a bit special for bike commuting.

If a company offers this $240 in lieu of of salary, the company saves a bit in taxes (maybe enough to justify the hassle of offering this as a benefit), and you save a bit in taxes. In this case the benefits to the commuter are less signifcant, though real. How much you save depends on your tax bracket. In my case I'd save $60 in taxes assuming I could spend the $240. Not enough to go around bragging that bike commuters are getting some kind of deal...

Brian
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Old 10-06-08, 04:54 PM
  #77  
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I'm self-employed and commute to my office every day that I can. I'll be interested to see if I can use this.
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Old 10-06-08, 10:28 PM
  #78  
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good for bikers !
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Old 10-07-08, 01:35 PM
  #79  
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When I originally heard about this, I thought it would just be a tax credit that I can type in when filing my income taxes next year. After more research into what Section 132 actually is, I've realized it's a bit more complicated than that.

Here is some random company's description of how the Section 132 transportation fringe benefit works. I got this from a quick google search:
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century allows employers to offer employees the opportunity to set aside a portion of their salary to pay for certain transportation expenses. The employee will not be taxed on amounts set aside and used for qualified expenses (that is, pre-tax dollars are used to pay the commuting expenses). This new fringe benefit first became available in 1999.

Qualified transportation expenses generally include payments for the use of mass transportation (for example, train, subway, bus fares), and for parking (see further details below). The maximum monthly pre-tax contribution for mass transit is $65, and $175 for parking. These limits are indexed for inflation.

How It Works: The transportation fringe benefit is similar to the pre-tax flexible spending accounts available for medical expenses and dependent care. One important difference, however, is the transportation benefit does not include a “use it or lose it penalty,” as is the case with medical/dependent care flexible spending accounts.

Before the start of the plan year, individual employees elect to set aside a certain amount of pretax salary to cover qualified costs incurred in commuting to work. The employee will designate an amount (up to $65 per month) for mass transit expenses and a separate amount (up to $175 per month) for parking expenses -- separate reimbursement accounts are maintained for each category, and funds cannot be commingled or transferred between accounts (for example,, amounts cannot be transferred from the mass transit to the parking account).

As the employee incurs the expenses during the year, a request (usually a claim form) may be submitted to the employer for reimbursement. Any amounts remaining in the employee’s reimbursement account at the end of the year are refunded to the employee in the following year (that is, the year after the employee’s contributions were withheld from his/her paycheck).

Who is Eligible: As a general rule, the new transportation fringe benefit can only be provided by employers to employees. Common law employees and officers of corporations are eligible (the law does not include non-discrimination requirements for the benefit). Sole proprietors, partners, independent contractors, and two-percent shareholders of S corporations are not eligible for this transportation fringe benefit.

Qualified Expenses: Parking expenses that can be paid with pre-tax dollars include the costs of (1) parking a vehicle in a facility that is near the employee’s place of work, or (2) parking at a location from where the employee commutes to work (for example, the cost of parking in a lot at the train station so that the employee can continue his/her commute on the train).
I believe the new bailout bill now allows bicycle commuting to fall under the section 132 guidelines up to a maximum of $20 per month. If this actually is anything at all like the medical spending accounts, you will have pretax money taken from your paycheck to go to a commuting account. You will have to pay for things up front, but can submit a claim for each of your bike related commuting expenses that will be reimbursed to you from that commuting account.

This is just actually just saving you from paying income tax on $240 (realistically would save me roughly what, $80) a year, not giving you an extra $240 like some people think it will be.
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Old 10-07-08, 01:41 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by JoesInBoston View Post
This is just actually just saving you from paying income tax on $240 (realistically would save me roughly what, $80) a year, not giving you an extra $240 like some people think it will be.
Yeah, that makes it much less attractive
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Old 10-07-08, 02:07 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by JoesInBoston View Post
This is just actually just saving you from paying income tax on $240 (realistically would save me roughly what, $80) a year, not giving you an extra $240 like some people think it will be.
Originally Posted by umd View Post
Yeah, that makes it much less attractive
However, this might make it more likely that an employer will actually implement the plan. Since they are not having to spend their money on it.
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Old 10-07-08, 02:15 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
Yeah, that makes it much less attractive
You got that right.......My boss drives his gas guzzling Landrover to work and gets to pay for his $150 parking fee each month tax free, but I am only allotted $20 tax free a month for bike maintenance. I know it's better than nothing, but come on.......
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Old 10-07-08, 06:40 PM
  #83  
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is there a lobby group?

Is there political action group that lobbys for cyclists? if so what is the name...
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Old 10-08-08, 12:01 PM
  #84  
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Well I presented it my employer and the response I got was..."find out more, we're not ruling it out but the cost to administer it may outweigh the benefits".

So I guess I'll have to dig...if anyone finds a more concise explanation of how it will work let us know.
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Old 10-08-08, 01:19 PM
  #85  
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The League of American Bicyclists?
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Old 10-09-08, 07:44 AM
  #86  
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I think I'm going to have fun with this one. My corporate masters have a profoundly inept local HR setup, and it's going to be interesting to see if they can figure this out. The last time I tried dealing with them, they couldn't even produce the promised discount baseball tickets! On the other hand, they pride themselves on being "green."

$20.00 per month isn't much, but it's actually about right for basic maintenance and the odd improvement. It would be nice, of course, if they were just going to buy me a new all carbon ride built to my peculiar specifications (after all what's another trillion dollars - so we could ALL get new bikes?) I doubt that's going to happen, though.
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Old 10-09-08, 02:57 PM
  #87  
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League of American Bicyclists is working on standardizing some of the items in the bill to help employers implement a reimbursement program.

https://www.bikeleague.org/news/100708faq.php

Again, the $20 per month is essentially a gift from the government to you through your employer; it's not a $20/month tax deduction, it's cash.
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Old 10-09-08, 03:23 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by jostan1 View Post
Is there political action group that lobbys for cyclists? if so what is the name...
The best-known national group is the League of American Bicyclists (Bikeleague), but there are other important ones too such as the Thunderhead Alliance, Bikes Belong (an industry group), and of course IMBA for mountain bikers.

Of these, IMBA seems to be the most organized and effective, in my humble opinion -- way ahead in patronage, programs, and participation.

In Ohio, the Ohio Bicycling Federation is the statewide advocacy group.

You can always start with your local bike club though.
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Old 10-13-08, 09:03 AM
  #89  
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Look at the last 3 paragraphs of this article. Anyone else has jobs this cool that encourage you not to use your car?.

https://www.sacbee.com/304/story/1305884.html

Bailout has a boost for bike commuters
By Tony Bizjak - tbizjak@sacbee.com

Last Updated 10:02 am PDT Saturday, October 11, 2008
Story appeared in OUR REGION section, Page B1

Bicycle commuters, Congress has your back.

Buried deep in the federal Emergency Economic Stabilization Act – the $700 billion Wall Street bailout – is an unexpected boost for the greenest of commuters.

With a tax-code change, beginning in January, companies can give up to $20 a month to workers who pedal to work. It would be tax-free to cycling commuters, and a tax write-off for employers.

Riders would use the subsidy to defray commute costs, such as bike tires or lights, helmets or rental fees for bike lockers at work.

The author, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said cyclists deserve a subsidy – albeit small – like the handouts some companies offer commuters who use transit or carpools, and even car drivers for parking costs.

"We shouldn't discriminate against people who burn calories instead of fossil fuel," said Blumenauer, who bikes daily to his congressional office.

Blumenauer, ironically, voted against his own bill this month because it was inserted at the last minute with other energy measures into the mammoth bailout package, which he opposed.

"It's frustrating," he said.

Sacramento cyclists, however, pronounced it good news.

"It's about time," said Walt Seifert of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates. "I hope employers jump on the chance to offer it."

Employers who offer a subsidy can determine who qualifies and how much they should get.

Several cyclists joked they'd use it to buy alternative fuel – Starbucks coffee.

"Hey, it's replacing the calories I burn," said Phil Vulliet, an engineer with Mark Thomas and Co. in Sacramento.

Mega-rider Carlos Casillas, who rides "rain or shine" between Davis and work downtown, figures he could save three months' worth and buy "some rubber." Good bike tires cost up to $60, but last only 3,000 miles. Casillas rode that much last May alone, during the region's annual bike mileage competition.

Census data from 2007 show that just 1.8 percent of Sacramento commuters ride bikes to work, although riders say they are seeing more cyclists on the streets this year because of higher gas prices.

Advocate Seifert and others say the federal subsidy serves as a statement that cyclists are equal members of Sacramento's commute society.

But Marilyn Bryant, a downtown transportation coordinator for businesses, said it may take some time before government agencies offer the subsidies because many of their employee benefits are part of negotiated union contracts.

Jack Paddon, a principal with Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners in Roseville, said it's something his company would consider.

"It's not a huge incentive," he said. "But it could be one of those enhancements to get more folks to consider bicycles as a commuting option."

As the bike commuting population grows, however, employers face new expenses, including providing bike parking, showers and even company cars for meetings.

One bike commuter, J.J. Hurley, says the federal subsidy idea is great, but he doesn't need it.

His employer, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, already offers employees $4.25 to spend as they please every day they ride a bike to work. It matches the transit incentive the agency offers employees.

"It's a cool subsidy," Hurley said. Plus, it makes sense for him. "I work in land use. I have to practice what I preach."
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Old 10-13-08, 10:24 AM
  #90  
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wow sure is a lot more excitement about this than I expected.

Why isn't anyone commenting about how they just about bought Earl Blumenauer's vote with this silliness? Why no outrage that this worthless bill turned into a barrel of pork?

I think it's a bit premature to be excited. We're looking at a possible default of government bonds, and even currency collapse in the next two years. I think we're led by a bunch of traitors! They voted to reward the jerks who got us to this point by getting out of control with the over-the-counter derivatives markets since 1999. With only 10% of banks reporting, credit default swaps are something like $55 trillion (just under the annual GDP of the entire planet -- and only 10% volunteered this info!). The system is so intertwined with itself, according to the BIS the total derivatives notional value is > 1.2 quadrillion. Our awesome responsible government will be spending 1 trillion more than it has next year. Not even considering all the entitlements the government is on the hook for (ss and medicare), we're in increasingly bad shape. All the money they've pumped into the system will eventually be felt, and then people will be comparing it to Weimar after WWI.

Who knows if japan and china will continue to subsidize these idiots through their purchasing of bonds? I promise, they will get together with russia and S.A. and create their own gold-pegged currency basket, and then the repo-man cometh!!
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Old 10-13-08, 10:37 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Kenny0 View Post
wow sure is a lot more excitement about this than I expected.

Why isn't anyone commenting about how they just about bought Earl Blumenauer's vote with this silliness? Why no outrage that this worthless bill turned into a barrel of pork?
Did you actually read the thread?
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Old 10-13-08, 10:50 AM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by Kenny0 View Post
wow sure is a lot more excitement about this than I expected.

Why isn't anyone commenting about how they just about bought Earl Blumenauer's vote with this silliness? Why no outrage that this worthless bill turned into a barrel of pork? <snip>
Hm.. Yeah I don't see much of that but the $20 however it is distributed or not is a pretty small price to pay for a vote given the amount of people who can and will take advantage of it. It has to be better then some other pork that goes on these bills I mean heck maybe getting a few cyclists to stick to it or get them out there could be a good thing?

If my company sees there are X cyclists taking advantage of this program they could use that for good PR and maybe might give us somewhere to lock our bike or something. I'm spoiled though since I have towels at the gym and now they are taking them away I'm griping about it. I mean c'mon I pay full price for a gym I don't step foot in and now you want to take away my towels
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Old 10-14-08, 07:53 AM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by FredOak View Post
Well I presented it my employer and the response I got was..."find out more, we're not ruling it out but the cost to administer it may outweigh the benefits".

So I guess I'll have to dig...if anyone finds a more concise explanation of how it will work let us know.
i'm in the same boat. of course i came to bike forums first, but now i'm even more confused. the optimist in me says i'll get cash out of this deal, the pessimist says i'll be able to claim 240 per year as a deduction. which would be lame, but it's something.

i think the league might be the best place for info at this point, with all the armchair lawyers here...
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Old 10-14-08, 10:03 AM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by evblazer View Post
Hm.. Yeah I don't see much of that but the $20 however it is distributed or not is a pretty small price to pay for a vote given the amount of people who can and will take advantage of it.
Well the congressman who originally sponsored the bike benefit bill (outside of the bailout) DIDN'T vote for the bailout bill because of the porkiness of it all. I'm not sure that $20 bought anybody's vote but there wasn't much time for discussion.


Originally Posted by veganboyjosh
i'm in the same boat. of course i came to bike forums first, but now i'm even more confused. the optimist in me says i'll get cash out of this deal, the pessimist says i'll be able to claim 240 per year as a deduction. which would be lame, but it's something.
Once again this is NOT a tax deduction on your personal return, it is a CASH GIFT given to you by your employer (if they participate) and your employer is reimbursed from the FedGov in the form of a credit. There's nothing confusing about what the bill is offering, only about how it will be administered and controlled.
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Old 10-14-08, 10:21 AM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Once again this is NOT a tax deduction on your personal return, it is a CASH GIFT given to you by your employer (if they participate) and your employer is reimbursed from the FedGov in the form of a credit. There's nothing confusing about what the bill is offering, only about how it will be administered and controlled.
It isn't completely clear to me at this point whether it is a tax-free cash payment from the employer, or an employee's pre-tax set-aside for reimbursement, like for medical expenses.
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Old 10-14-08, 10:33 AM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
It isn't completely clear to me at this point whether it is a tax-free cash payment from the employer, or an employee's pre-tax set-aside for reimbursement, like for medical expenses.
That is the problem I am having. They same places that say a $20 credit/gift says it will be added as part of or a rider to the commuter reimbursement program that people get for parking/transit. Well my companies parking transit works just like a medical spending account so I'm confusled.
Perhaps my company is just too cheap or hates employees to much to administer the program which would most benefit the employee *shrug*
https://www.myshps.com/commuter/overview.stm
and here https://www.benefithelpsolutions.com/...eimburse.shtml actually mentions that section 132 all either of them mention is pre-tax moneys through payroll deduction. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/fringe_benefit_fslg.pdf mentions on page 53 that is a way to provide the benefit without additional cost to the employer so maybe it is the lessor of more then one option so I guess I might just get the crappy version *shrug*.

So I am still confused.

Last edited by evblazer; 10-14-08 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 10-14-08, 11:46 AM
  #97  
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There is something here some of you need to understand. While it was hoped for and wished that the Bicycle Commuter Act be passed as part of something else or on it's own at least it finally got passed, though as part of the bailout bill. The commuter act has been in the works for over 7 years now. The League of American Bicyclists have been working long and hard on it. Your frustration is undertandable but try not to look a gift horse in the mouth. At least something on this was passed.

There are a few things we all need to keep in mind. First the administrative rules have not been written on this yet. There is still a lot of work to be done on it.

This is only the first step for the commuter act. Now that the foot is in the door amendments can be made to it for continued improvments to it.

For more clarification go here:
https://www.bikeleague.org/news/100708adv.php
https://www.bikeleague.org/
https://www.bikeleague.org/news/100708faq.php

Last edited by Square & Compas; 10-14-08 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 10-14-08, 01:39 PM
  #98  
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$20/mo may not seem like a lot to some of you, but it's a lot to me. I already track gas $ saved by commuting to offset/justify some of my bicycle expenses, and this would sweeten the pot. I can easily think of 12 months upgrades for my bike.. fenders, lighting, tires, backup tires, tubes, CO2, chain rings, chains, cassettes, brake pads, bar tape, saddle bags, bell, etc. If service can be expensed, routine tune-ups, bearing repacks, wheel truing, etc.

My former company, a Fortune 500 in downtown Dallas, reimburses employees for transit passes, and I'm pretty sure that it's administered through a third party. I'm sure that they will start to offer this benefit as well. Pushing this through my current company might be difficult due to the administrative burden, but I'll try anyway.
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Old 10-14-08, 01:42 PM
  #99  
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I work for a state agency. I just got an email that we don't qualify for this benefit. It wasn't explained why, but I assume it's because the employer doesn't pay federal income tax. However, it might be more useful to me and my fellow commuters because it points out the inequity of providing subsidized, pretax transit passes but nothing for bike commuters.
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Old 10-14-08, 04:24 PM
  #100  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I work for a state agency. I just got an email that we don't qualify for this benefit. It wasn't explained why, but I assume it's because the employer doesn't pay federal income tax.
So I guess those of us that work for non-profits are excluded as well?
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