HR Support on Transportation & Commuter Benefits

Editor's Note: Transportation benefits can benefit employees, employers and the environment.

Tracy MorleyOverview: Many employers provide commuter benefits to soften the blow of the high cost of commuting and to help recruit and/or retain valuable employees. This voluntary employee benefit program allows employees to reduce their monthly commuting expenses related to parking, transit, vanpooling and bicycling. Money used for eligible commuting expenses is excluded from gross income, and in many states, can also be excluded from state and local taxes.

Tax-free commuter benefits can be funded by:

  • The employer as a tax-free fringe benefit;
  • The employee via pre-tax payroll deductions; or
  • A combination of funding by the employee and employer.

In addition to helping with recruitment and retention, some employers provide transportation benefits for environmental and societal reasons. Driving to and from work on a regular basis takes a toll on the environment, traffic congestion and air quality. Offering commuter benefits may encourage workers to commute by mass transportation which, in turn, may reduce the number of commuters in cars, alleviate traffic jams, smog and damage to the environment.

Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor

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