Do you have adblock enabled?
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Washington Post)   Mass transit tax benefits for commuters to shrink in 2014. Public transportation to soon go back to the pickpockets, gropers, people with a DUI   (washingtonpost.com ) divider line 39
    More: Asinine, American Water Works Association  
•       •       •

756 clicks; posted to Business » on 30 Dec 2013 at 10:41 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



39 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

Archived thread
 
2013-12-30 10:49:52 AM  
Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?
 
2013-12-30 10:54:53 AM  
Oil subsidies to continue as planned.
 
2013-12-30 11:05:40 AM  
This stinks for me (will cost me some bucks in 2014) but it's kind of a stupid benefit in most cases.

Probably 99% of us in the NYC area who take mass transit to work would/will take it anyway. And the parking benefit portion actually incents people to drive to work (because it covers parking near your workplace, I believe, not just parking at a train station or whatever).

It would only make sense in areas where people usually drive but there is a mass transit option available that this benefit would subsidize.

I don't think the number of people you get off the roads with these plans are worth the cost.
 
2013-12-30 11:07:10 AM  

DrVoice: Oil subsidies to continue as planned.



Of course. Removing the tax subsidies we give to already-profitable companies would be "increasing taxes of the American people", I've been told.
 
2013-12-30 11:13:38 AM  
25.media.tumblr.com

DAMMIT we just got it RAISED to match parking benefits in 2013.  Of course, parking allowances will go up. AGAIN.
 
2013-12-30 11:18:17 AM  

Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?


are they talking about listing mass transit as a business cost, similar to mileage used for work in a car?
 
2013-12-30 11:25:37 AM  
The most absurd thing about this is the degree to which DC desperately needs to deal with its traffic and road infrastructure problem. Getting more commuters onto the trains is one of the best ways to address that, and yet they're de-incentivizing it.
 
2013-12-30 11:29:33 AM  

Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?


Under Section 132: As a general rule, the transportation fringe benefit can only be provided by employers to employees.

Your boss doesn't want to do extra paperwork.
 
2013-12-30 11:30:19 AM  
I had to re-up and acknowledge my tax credit was going down.  Welp, at least it'll be offset by the mandatory tax cut I just got from Massachusetts.  :)
 
2013-12-30 11:33:14 AM  

Hyjamon: Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?

are they talking about listing mass transit as a business cost, similar to mileage used for work in a car?


It's a pre-tax deduction of an employee's income that goes toward qualified transit costs, if the company chooses to participate. It's not a line item on your federal tax return, if that's what you're asking.
 
2013-12-30 11:43:47 AM  

Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?


Its almost always offered through your employer.

My old job had it. I would designate X amount of dollars a month pre tax that would come out of my paycheck, which got loaded on a debit card that only worked for mass transit stuff. You could also just have them send you your monthly pass if you wanted.

Technically you were only supposed to use it to go to\from work.
 
2013-12-30 11:44:32 AM  

Hyjamon: Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?

are they talking about listing mass transit as a business cost, similar to mileage used for work in a car?


You can opt-in for your company to buy your transit fare cards on your behalf, taking the money (full fare) from your paycheck before taxes are assessed (like health insurance or 401k). You have to pay the full price anyway, and the transit company still gets all their fares, but you then show less reported income, so it lowers your taxes a bit at the end of the year.
 
2013-12-30 12:19:33 PM  
This is why I cant work in DC. My job has offered me a few times, but with the way they want to jack up metro fares I would lose any money gained by it.
 
2013-12-30 12:37:53 PM  
For what it's worth, I tried running a few different use cases for where I live (SF bay area), and came up with these results:

Muni (San Francisco): $66/month
VTA (Santa Clara Valley): $70/month
Caltrain, one zone (e.g. to a neighboring city): $73/month
BART from Oakland to San Francisco: about $128/month
-- NEW CUTOFF: $130/month --
BART from Fremont to San Francisco: about $227/month
BART from Pleasanton to San Francisco: about $227/month
Golden Gate Ferry (Larkspur to San Francisco): about $237/month
Caltrain, four zones (e.g. San Francisco to San Jose): $232/month
-- OLD CUTOFF: $245/month --
ACE from Stockton to San Jose: $330/month
Caltrain, six zones (e.g. San Francisco to Gilroy): $338/month

(BART and Golden Gate Ferry fares are approximate because they do not sell monthly passes.)

Yeah, this is going to suck for a lot of commuters.
 
2013-12-30 12:47:45 PM  

groppet: This is why I cant work in DC. My job has offered me a few times, but with the way they want to jack up metro fares I would lose any money gained by it.


About two years ago I calculated that if I switched to public transit, I'd save about $3/month based solely on fuel cost.  I think the savings has increased since the price of gas has gone up, but I haven't re-done all the calculations since then.

To be fair, the difference is so small that if I were to purchase a hybrid car with better gas mileage, it would be cheaper to drive than to take public transit.  However, my current car is fully paid-off, gets about 30 MPG, and has no serious maintenance issues, so the cost of a new car isn't really worth it in my case.
 
2013-12-30 12:49:41 PM  

LemSkroob: Hyjamon: Unobtanium: Wait, what? There is a pre-tax mass transit spending account? Why haven't I heard transit agencies advertise this?

are they talking about listing mass transit as a business cost, similar to mileage used for work in a car?

You can opt-in for your company to buy your transit fare cards on your behalf, taking the money (full fare) from your paycheck before taxes are assessed (like health insurance or 401k). You have to pay the full price anyway, and the transit company still gets all their fares, but you then show less reported income, so it lowers your taxes a bit at the end of the year.


So, another employer based benefit, similar to healthcare.  Would such a program not be able to exist if people wanted to opt-in to a public program (read: not sponsored by an employer) if their employers don't offer such an option?  I get that you are only supposed to use it for work, and hence if you have an employer offering it, then you are employed, but if you don't have an employer making this an option, then you are just SOL.
 
2013-12-30 01:29:41 PM  
bad part is that they also discontinued the bicycle program where you could get $20 a month for bicycle maintenance if you rode your bicycle to work.
 
2013-12-30 01:32:36 PM  

anfrind: About two years ago I calculated that if I switched to public transit, I'd save about $3/month based solely on fuel cost.


I think the biggest perk at that point is being able to play games or read books instead of fighting traffic for over an hour.
 
2013-12-30 01:38:13 PM  
Thanks, everyone, for the explanation of how this one is applied in the tax code. Doesn't affect me in my current job (regional job, lots of facilities, company car that I pay imputed income tax on) but should things change it is something to keep my eye on. I had a job many years ago where they gave out one fixed-price transit card each month that covered about one weeks' worth of commuting.

And for the record, this is a stupid thing to cut back on, if we are going to leave the tax code as the complex abomination it is now, and if we really want to promote alternative commuting.
 
2013-12-30 01:46:19 PM  

Unobtanium: company car that I pay imputed income tax on


Are you able to use it off the job?
 
2013-12-30 02:26:09 PM  
Brazil had riots over cuts to mass-transit subsidies for weeks, I believe. Too bad this consumerist society we've built is too busy watching Duck Dynasty to care about stuff like that.
 
2013-12-30 02:55:30 PM  

The_Six_Fingered_Man: Unobtanium: company car that I pay imputed income tax on

Are you able to use it off the job?


Yes, except for vacation trips. But pretty much anything I would use "my" car for, this is "my" car. Which is why I get hit with an imputed income. Still, cheaper for me then having to use my own vehicle.
 
2013-12-30 03:18:36 PM  

Debeo Summa Credo: This stinks for me (will cost me some bucks in 2014) but it's kind of a stupid benefit in most cases.

Probably 99% of us in the NYC area who take mass transit to work would/will take it anyway. And the parking benefit portion actually incents people to drive to work (because it covers parking near your workplace, I believe, not just parking at a train station or whatever).

It would only make sense in areas where people usually drive but there is a mass transit option available that this benefit would subsidize.

I don't think the number of people you get off the roads with these plans are worth the cost.



A 30-day MetroCard is $112 which still falls below the maximum amount in that article - unless you buy more than one, of course!

/TransitChek is awesome
//$1344 off my taxable income each year
 
2013-12-30 03:43:15 PM  
Since businesses are able to claim expenses against their tax burden,

Citizens should be able to claim commuting costs too.

Hey, it's an expense against our bottom line in the pursuit of income.
 
2013-12-30 04:09:07 PM  

Hyjamon: So, another employer based benefit, similar to healthcare.  Would such a program not be able to exist if people wanted to opt-in to a public program (read: not sponsored by an employer) if their employers don't offer such an option?  I get that you are only supposed to use it for work, and hence if you have an employer offering it, then you are employed, but if you don't have an employer making this an option, then you are just SOL.


Actually, the employer doesn't lose or gain one cent. Its a deal between you (the transit card buyer) and the government (letting you buy the card pre-tax). All the employer is doing is pushing along the paperwork. The employer is only involved at all because the end user has to be employed to benefit (and having the employer pass along the paperwork is verification of that).

All the employer has to do is be willing to opt-in to do the  leg-work for the employees benefit. (some shiatty jobs cant be arsed to bother with the minimial record keeping)

I'd call it an employMENT based benefit.

Its really easy for a job to sign up. It can be any size. My wife's company of 2,000, or mine, of 4. You just need to have a company accountant who isn't a lazy Fark.

As for it being offered on a public level, well, that would just about reduce the need to even bother. At that rate, they may as well just lower the fares across the board.
 
2013-12-30 04:11:10 PM  

GuyFawkes: Debeo Summa Credo: This stinks for me (will cost me some bucks in 2014) but it's kind of a stupid benefit in most cases.

Probably 99% of us in the NYC area who take mass transit to work would/will take it anyway. And the parking benefit portion actually incents people to drive to work (because it covers parking near your workplace, I believe, not just parking at a train station or whatever).

It would only make sense in areas where people usually drive but there is a mass transit option available that this benefit would subsidize.

I don't think the number of people you get off the roads with these plans are worth the cost.


A 30-day MetroCard is $112 which still falls below the maximum amount in that article - unless you buy more than one, of course!

/TransitChek is awesome
//$1344 off my taxable income each year



I use the unlimited as well. Its nice to have. However, the cap will not so much effect NYC subway riders, as you mentioned, but people who use other MTA services, like MetroNorth, LIRR, or Express Bus, where the fares are much higher.
 
2013-12-30 04:22:35 PM  
LemSkroob:


I use the unlimited as well. Its nice to have. However, the cap will not so much effect NYC subway riders, as you mentioned, but people who use other MTA services, like MetroNorth, LIRR, or Express Bus, where the fares are much higher.


Good point, I didn't think about MNR, LIRR, NJT, etc.
 
2013-12-30 04:37:42 PM  

GuyFawkes: Debeo Summa Credo: This stinks for me (will cost me some bucks in 2014) but it's kind of a stupid benefit in most cases.

Probably 99% of us in the NYC area who take mass transit to work would/will take it anyway. And the parking benefit portion actually incents people to drive to work (because it covers parking near your workplace, I believe, not just parking at a train station or whatever).

It would only make sense in areas where people usually drive but there is a mass transit option available that this benefit would subsidize.

I don't think the number of people you get off the roads with these plans are worth the cost.


A 30-day MetroCard is $112 which still falls below the maximum amount in that article - unless you buy more than one, of course!

/TransitChek is awesome
//$1344 off my taxable income each year


Yes, I take metro north too.

The thing is, it is a pointless subsidy. You would take the subway anyway, most likely, as would the vast majority of people taking the subway. Combined with the fact that they subsidize parking (after you drive to work), what's the point? It isn't getting anybody off the roads.
 
2013-12-30 04:44:51 PM  

Debeo Summa Credo: GuyFawkes: Debeo Summa Credo: This stinks for me (will cost me some bucks in 2014) but it's kind of a stupid benefit in most cases.

Probably 99% of us in the NYC area who take mass transit to work would/will take it anyway. And the parking benefit portion actually incents people to drive to work (because it covers parking near your workplace, I believe, not just parking at a train station or whatever).

It would only make sense in areas where people usually drive but there is a mass transit option available that this benefit would subsidize.

I don't think the number of people you get off the roads with these plans are worth the cost.


A 30-day MetroCard is $112 which still falls below the maximum amount in that article - unless you buy more than one, of course!

/TransitChek is awesome
//$1344 off my taxable income each year

Yes, I take metro north too.

The thing is, it is a pointless subsidy. You would take the subway anyway, most likely, as would the vast majority of people taking the subway. Combined with the fact that they subsidize parking (after you drive to work), what's the point? It isn't getting anybody off the roads.



Oh, I agree, but I won't turn down the benefit!  What NYC really needs is a toll/fee for driving below 59th, 34th, whatever, coupled with rail on the west side of the Hudson and a rail line across the new TZ Bridge (which will never happen, unfortunately).
 
2013-12-30 05:11:45 PM  
Public transportation to soon go back to the pickpockets, gropers, people with a DUI

Meaning that you have to bribe people before they'll willingly take public transit.
 
2013-12-30 05:12:13 PM  
When I first read this I thought that sucks, then realized I had never used the benefit for the full amount old or 2014.  Monthly pass for my commuting needs in Minneapilis would be $85 for a monthly all I can ride, $115 if I can the Express bus pass.  Chicago tops out at $100.
 
2013-12-30 05:17:59 PM  
And we're going to use all the money we saved to expand our nation's mediocre public transit infrastructure to something approaching first-world standards, right?

...heh, couldn't keep a straight face with that one.
 
2013-12-30 05:18:57 PM  

jjorsett: Public transportation to soon go back to the pickpockets, gropers, people with a DUI

Meaning that you have to bribe people before they'll willingly take public transit.


Of course if you actually read the article (I know, right?) you'd know that we're "bribing" people more to drive than to take public transit.
 
2013-12-30 07:52:22 PM  

RevCarter: The most absurd thing about this is the degree to which DC desperately needs to deal with its traffic and road infrastructure problem. Getting more commuters onto the trains is one of the best ways to address that, and yet they're de-incentivizing it.


Do you really think the Red Line can handle more people?
 
2013-12-31 01:02:48 AM  

Debeo Summa Credo: The thing is, it is a pointless subsidy. You would take the subway anyway, most likely, as would the vast majority of people taking the subway. Combined with the fact that they subsidize parking (after you drive to work), what's the point? It isn't getting anybody off the roads.


Not everyone in the country lives in NY.  It might be pointless for people in NY, but there are plenty of areas that attract what are called "choice riders."  They're people who could drive, but for whatever reason decide to leave the car at home and take transit.  This was another incentive for them.
 
2013-12-31 08:11:11 AM  

davidphogan: Debeo Summa Credo: The thing is, it is a pointless subsidy. You would take the subway anyway, most likely, as would the vast majority of people taking the subway. Combined with the fact that they subsidize parking (after you drive to work), what's the point? It isn't getting anybody off the roads.

Not everyone in the country lives in NY.  It might be pointless for people in NY, but there are plenty of areas that attract what are called "choice riders."  They're people who could drive, but for whatever reason decide to leave the car at home and take transit.  This was another incentive for them.


Yes, in other areas it may be more effective.  Nevertheless I still doubt it is worth the expense - the number of people who are actually incented to take mass transit is likely a very small fraction of the people who take the benefit but would take mass transit regardess, like myself, GuyFawkes and every other metro New Yorker (don't know if any studies have been performed).  Plus, I believe that the parking benefit can be used not only to park at mass transit stops, but also near your work if you drive all the way in.  So there's an incentive to drive to work included in the law, which makes no sense.
 
2013-12-31 08:35:28 AM  

Debeo Summa Credo: So there's an incentive to drive to work included in the law, which makes no sense.


It's almost like looking to lawmakers to achieve a goal will frequently get you the exact opposite, or at best, no change except expenditures.
 
2013-12-31 09:14:09 AM  
In many cases the lowered amount prevents prevents mass transit users from buying enough mass transit passes to go anywhere at any time, whether for work or not. The benefit is intended to make it cheaper to get to work and work alone, not to make it cheaper to go anywhere at any time.

In my particular case, I buy one $85 all-access pass that theoretically allows me to take the train or bus point-to-point anywhere within Cuyahoga county 24/7/365. In practice I use it 99.7% of the time to take the light rail to and from downtown Cleveland, where I work. I park for free by the train station, which is (I think) $10 a month cheaper than driving downtown and parking close to my office, plus I'm much less of an asshole when I get home because my driving leg is a short jaunt across the flow of traffic that's still coming out of the city. The other .3% of the time I use the bus to get to the train because maybe the car is in the shop or something.

My boss, on the other hand, has been in the habit of buying a more expensive monthly pass for the express bus that originates outside Cuyahoga county and only goes to/from downtown AND several 5-day passes for all-access within the county, to give herself the option of driving a little farther in and using the train. Now she can only afford to do one or the other. Not really a big deal for her either way but it is a slight inconvenience.

According to the service the benefit for parking only is still $245, which I guess might make sense if you work in Manhattan or the Loop or something and are dumb enough to drive all the way in day in and day out.
 
2013-12-31 10:32:25 AM  

Rev. Creflo Baller: In many cases the lowered amount prevents prevents mass transit users from buying enough mass transit passes to go anywhere at any time, whether for work or not. The benefit is intended to make it cheaper to get to work and work alone, not to make it cheaper to go anywhere at any time.

In my particular case, I buy one $85 all-access pass that theoretically allows me to take the train or bus point-to-point anywhere within Cuyahoga county 24/7/365. In practice I use it 99.7% of the time to take the light rail to and from downtown Cleveland, where I work. I park for free by the train station, which is (I think) $10 a month cheaper than driving downtown and parking close to my office, plus I'm much less of an asshole when I get home because my driving leg is a short jaunt across the flow of traffic that's still coming out of the city. The other .3% of the time I use the bus to get to the train because maybe the car is in the shop or something.

My boss, on the other hand, has been in the habit of buying a more expensive monthly pass for the express bus that originates outside Cuyahoga county and only goes to/from downtown AND several 5-day passes for all-access within the county, to give herself the option of driving a little farther in and using the train. Now she can only afford to do one or the other. Not really a big deal for her either way but it is a slight inconvenience.

According to the service the benefit for parking only is still $245, which I guess might make sense if you work in Manhattan or the Loop or something and are dumb enough to drive all the way in day in and day out.


You just use post-tax money to buy the remainder of the pass. SEPTA (Philadelphia) is so expensive that the old benefit didn't cover my train pass from quite close-in, so I spent $13/mo in post-tax money before I went to full-time remote.
 
Displayed 39 of 39 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »
Advertisement
On Twitter






In Other Media


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.

Report