Tacked on last minute to the $700 billion bailout, bicycle commuters across the nation will be eligible for for a tax benefit that is already available to both train & bus commuters.
[social_buttons] After $700 billion of our American tax dollars just went to bail out private banks, it’s a small relief that some laws were squeezed into that deal, with the sole purpose of benefiting people and the planet.
Starting January 1st, those who commute via bicycle to work are eligible to receive $20.00 per month in tax-free reimbursements from their employer. The reimbursement is meant to defray the costs of owning and operating a bike. Employers can deduct this expense from their federal taxes.
“What this does is to legitimize commuting by bicycle,” said Robert Rayburn, director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “We’ve already seen a swelling of bicycling commuters on account of the rising gas prices. Until this change in the tax code, bike commuters have been denied a benefit that public transit riders get.”
The bicycle tax break was championed by Oregonians. Advocates of the provision had been trying for seven years to get something similar passed in Washington. At the last minute of negotiating the $700 billion bailout, lawmakers were able to add in their “pet projects,” and thus the bicycle commuter tax break is now a reality.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, it’s estimated that $1 million a year might be eliminated from the federal tax roll due to this new employer write off.
Photo: Flickr under a Creative Commons License
Meg Hamill has been working in the environmental non-profit field in Northern California for the past six years. She currently works as a naturalist for LandPaths (in partnership with the Open Space District) in Santa Rosa California. She teaches poetry in the public school through California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) and has traveled extensively throughout South and Central America, picking up Spanish along the way. In 1999 she completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Meg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has published two books of political/environmental poetry. Read more, buy books and e-mail Meg at www.meghamill.com.