Monday, October 06, 2008

Bike commuter benefits is now USA law

President Bush signed the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act into law today.Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon included a bike commuter benefit provision in the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package that passed both houses of Congress this week.“We are delighted that the bicycle commuter benefits act has passed after a lengthy and persistent campaign spearheaded by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR),” said League President Andy Clarke. “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”The benefit allows employers to reimburse bike commuters up to $20 per month tax free for expenses related to their commute by bike. Bke commuters who receive other commuter benefits, such as a transit pass, are not eligible for further reimbursement.

SEC. 211. TRANSPORTATION FRINGE BENEFIT TO BICYCLE COMMUTERS.

(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘(D) Any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’

.(b) Limitation on Exclusion- Paragraph (2) of section 132(f) is amended by striking ‘and’ at the end of subparagraph (A), by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (B) and inserting ‘, and’, and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph: ‘(C) the applicable annual limitation in the case of any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’

.(c) Definitions- Paragraph (5) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(F) DEFINITIONS RELATED TO BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT-

‘(i) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement’ means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.

‘(ii) APPLICABLE ANNUAL LIMITATION- The term ‘applicable annual limitation’ means, with respect to any employee for any calendar year, the product of $20 multiplied by the number of qualified bicycle commuting months during such year.‘

(iii) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING MONTH- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting month’ means, with respect to any employee, any month during which such employee--

‘(I) regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment, and

‘(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1).’.

(d) Constructive Receipt of Benefit- Paragraph (4) of section 132(f) is amended by inserting ‘(other than a qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement)’ after ‘qualified transportation fringe’.

(e) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.

8 comments:

munsoned said...

WOW! So that means I could get $240 a year for doing what I already do? I need to figure out how to get my job into this.

Thanks for the heads up!!

RD said...

that is a lot of beer or a new wheel oh yeah

dale said...

I understand it to mean if I can get my employer to pay me $20 per month to ride to work, I'm not charged income tax on that.

But what does the employer get for the added $20 expense? I must be missing something b/c I see no financial reason for business to pay employees to ride to work.

munsoned said...

My guess is that a business looking to have a "green" image might opt to go for this. It would be nice if the plan included some incentive for businesses though.

MOD said...

The employer gets the $20 tax write off. This is an amendment to a current law allowing bicycle commuters to be classed as alternative transportation. I'm not sure on the details of the current law if there are any other employer benefits other than a healthier and less congested work place.

Don Kuhns said...

Interesting. I recently had the chance to ask Governor Heineman for his thoughts on promoting bicycling to work as an alternative means of transportation. This was during the Governor's monthly radio call-in show. Specifically, I asked him, since he had already talked about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, if creating infrastructure to promote alternative modes of transportation was a necessary part of this, and if the new Bob Kerrey Bridge might be a good example of such infrastructure.

His answer vexed me. First, he laughed. Then he said that when we talk about alternative energy, we mean wind, ethanol, etc. Thinking he may have not understood the question, I got more specific. "So," I asked, "You don't think it's important to promote bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation?" He answered no, not as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

MOD said...

Wow, I'm speechless. How much longer does Heineman have left?

ajb said...

Doh! Way to go Gov. Dave... way to go.

Overall, this is a fine bit of legislature. Thanks Oregon!

Questions: How is an employer responsible for proving a person actually pedals in to work? What does "regular use" and "substantial portion" mean?

My bet is that by helping our employers figure these things out, commuters will be a few steps closer to collecting on this benefit.