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US Cycle to work benefit could be scrapped

Posted on in Cycles News

A tax plan released in the US this week does away with the cycle to work initiative that allows employers to reimburse workers, tax free, up to $20 per month for expenses related to bike commuting.

cycle pathThe Bicycle Commuter Benefit was created in 2009 as a way to encourage more people to commute by bike in the US. It does so by allowing any employer to provide a reimbursement of up to $240 each year in tax benefits for ‘reasonable expenses' such as bike maintenance, clothing and accessories or even towards the cost of the bike.

But if the latest proposals by the Senate are accepted, this could soon come to an end.

The latest tax bill put forward by Senate Republicans includes the elimination of the Bicycle Commuter Act.

"For some reason, the voters of this bill want to eliminate a not-costly benefit that has many other positive benefits associated with it," said Ken McLeod, policy director at the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

The tax benefit costs the federal government about $5 million a year. Employers are not required to offer the benefit, but may choose to do so. Neither the employer nor the employee are taxed on payroll or income for the reimbursement.

People who drive to work currently get up to $255 a month to put toward parking. Yet under the Senate plan, bicycling is the only transportation-related benefit targeted for elimination.

"I don't know why this is the target," McLeod said. "We think if one benefit is touched, all should be touched. If not, we're going to fight hard to keep it in, or get it back in, so that bicyclists can benefit just like every transportation user."

"The bike commuter benefit can either be reinstated through an amendment in the Senate or when the House and Senate bills are reconciled in conference.

"We'll be looking for every avenue to reinstate the benefit and ensure that it survives conference."

Over the weekend, the League of American Bicyclists called on its members to reach out to Congress and speak against the elimination of the benefit. Around 1,200 people contacted the Senate Finance Committee, McLeod said.
President Trump has said that he hopes to have the plan finalized and approved by the end of the year.

 

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