Overview: 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:
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
Updated to include final regulations under the Seattle Commuter Benefits Ordinance.
Numerous legislative changes take effect on or about January 1, affecting minimum wage rates, employee leaves, health care benefits and more. HR should take note of these legal developments and take appropriate steps to comply.
Updated to reflect forthcoming pre-tax commuter benefits.
Updated to reflect the federal tax reform law's effect on commuter/transportation benefits, effective January 1, 2018.
In-depth review of the spectrum of District of Columbia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee compensation.
In-depth review of the spectrum of New York employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee compensation.
HR guidance on the benefits of providing commuter/transportation benefits.