Nearly Two-Thirds of Employers in Major Metropolitan Areas Now Offer a Tax-free Commuter Benefit; Many Say Offering the Benefit is their Most Significant Contribution to Curbing Global Warming
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 25, 2007–
U.S. employers now view pre-tax commuter benefits as the number-one planned addition to their benefits packages, amidst a growing focus on the environment and supporting employee commuting, according to the 2007 TransitCenter Commuter Impact Survey. TransitCenter, Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of mass transit, independently fielded the survey to 245 U.S. human resource professionals across public, private, nonprofit and government organizations at the June 2007 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition as well as online.
Under Internal Revenue Code, tax-free commuter benefits programs can be offered by employers as an employee-funded pre-tax payroll deduction or as an employer-provided fringe benefit – and allow participants to set aside up to $110 a month tax-free to pay for transit and vanpool commuting costs, and up to $215 for commuter parking. Employees who participate can achieve tax savings equivalent to 30 to 40 percent of their out-of-pocket commuting expenses. Offering a commuter benefits program can also help employers lower their payroll taxes.
Compared to last year, the 2007 TransitCenter Commuter Impact survey shows that deployment of tax-free commuter benefits programs by U.S. employers in major metropolitan areas has grown 132 percent, jumping from 28 percent in 2006 to 65 percent in 2007. Today, it is the number-one program that employers plan to add to their benefits package in the next year, with 17 percent saying they intend to implement a pre-tax commuter benefit program as compared to 5 percent in 2006.
TransitCenter’s survey also reveals that more employers are focused on providing commuting alternatives to employees, responding to growing employee concern about the cost of driving to work (93 percent), traffic congestion and drive time (84 percent), and carbon emissions and their impact on global warming (79 percent). The 2000 U.S. Census found that over 78 percent of people employed in the U.S. drive alone to work – and, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2007 Urban Mobility Report, lose nearly a full work week of productivity per capita annually by sitting in traffic.
“Employers are striving to make a positive impact on their employees and the environmental future of the communities they serve, and TransitCenter is extremely proud that commuter benefits are rising to the forefront as a simple way to make a significant difference,” said Larry Filler, president and CEO of TransitCenter. “As we mark the 20th anniversary of commuter benefits being recognized under federal law, the number of employers offering the benefit has never been higher. We expect participation to grow as more realize the value of these programs in encouraging people to get out of their cars and ride mass transit.”
TransitCenter introduced TransitChek, the nation’s first tax-free commuter benefits program in 1987 to engage employers in encouraging their employees’ use of mass transit to reduce traffic congestion and curb emissions that cause global warming. Its latest survey confirms that its mission is being heard by employers today more than ever: 84 percent of respondents said that their companies are concerned about the environment and global warming, and approximately two-thirds have developed initiatives to respond. The survey found that employers are addressing global warming and environmental issues in a number of ways:
- * 28 percent offer commuter benefits specifically as a means to encourage the use of mass transit
- 22 percent currently partner with a green organization
- 20 percent have established an internal policy for energy conservation
- 20 percent are developing products and services that are not detrimental to the environment
- 19 percent are teaching employees how to use less energy
- 17 percent are pursuing a greener supply chain approach
TransitCenter offers services to help employers determine how to implement a commuter benefits program that is right for them and their employees. The organization offers best practices and assistance in expanding employee participation for public, private and nonprofit and government employers nationwide.
A copy of the 2007 TransitCenter Commuter Impact Survey report is available by contacting Charles Kim at email@example.com.
About Tax-Free Commuter Benefits
Since 1993, employers have been able to offer employees a tax-free benefit for commuting by transit and eligible vanpools or to pay for commuter parking primarily at transit or ridesharing locations under IRS tax code section 132(f). Tax-free commuter benefits can be structured as an employee-funded tax-free payroll deduction; as an employer-funded benefit; or the costs can be shared by employer and employee. The benefit can be delivered in the form of transit provider-specific passes, universally accepted vouchers and terminal–restricted debit cards, or through a reimbursement model under specific conditions defined by the IRS. Current IRS limits allow for participants to set aside up to $110 a month tax-free to pay for transit and vanpool commuting costs, and up to $215 for commuter parking.
A nonprofit corporation, TransitCenter specializes in tax-free commuter benefits, transit information and assistance for employers and commuters nationwide. TransitCenter introduced the nation’s first tax-free commuter benefits program in 1987 to encourage more people to use mass transit to protect the environment, preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life where people work and live. Today, more than 11,000 employers and 500,000 employees participate in TransitCenter’s TransitChek commuter benefits programs as a convenient, money-saving way to pay for commuting.
For 20 years, TransitCenter has worked hand-in-hand with transit providers, communities and employers to make mass transit more accessible. Independent since 2001, TransitCenter was founded in 1986 as a joint alliance of leading public transit providers. A deep heritage in transit drives TransitCenter’s continued commitment to bringing new innovations to employers and transit riders that participate in TransitChek tax-free commuter benefits programs. Learn more by visiting www.transitcenter.com.
CONTACT: Moon Kim
Makovsky + Company (212) 508-9614 firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Business Wire 2007
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