6/25/08: In light of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Doug Shulman’s recent move to raise the reimbursement rate for use of a personal vehicle for business reasons from 50.5 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile beginning July 1 through the end of the year, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley has called on the acting head of the General Service Administration (GSA) to make the same rate adjustment for federal employees.
In a letter to GSA Acting Administrator David L. Bibb — who has the policy authority to make a mid-year mileage rate adjustment, which would impact federal employees nationwide — President Kelley noted that record gas prices are placing undue financial hardship on federal employees who must travel as part of their work duties.
These include many NTEU members in the IRS and in other federal agencies. The federal government’s reimbursement rate is set by GSA, but cannot exceed the amount set by the IRS as the maximum rate allowed as a business deduction.
“I am pleased to see Commissioner Shulman heeded our call and took action. I now call on GSA to provide immediate relief to federal workers,” President Kelley said, referring to a June 6 letter in which she urged Commissioner Shulman to raise the reimbursement rate. “However, I do not believe 58.5 cents a mile is sufficient to cover the sharply rising gas prices, particularly for federal employees who use their personal vehicles to travel significant distances as part of their federal government work,” Kelley added. “Federal employees are, in essence, subsidizing the government when they drive on government business.”
Pending NTEU-supported legislation in the House and Senate would raise the current mileage reimbursement rate to an even higher level, 70 cents per mile, and would make that adjustment automatic with no action necessary by GSA. Additional legislation, proposed by GSA and supported by NTEU, also would allow the immediate application of any IRS rate hike to federal employees.
President Kelley reminded Bibb that, in the past, when the IRS made a mid-year adjustment to its mileage reimbursement rate, GSA has been quick to follow suit. In 2005, with gas prices on the rise, then-IRS Commissioner Mark Everson used his authority to increase the maximum rate and GSA extended it to federal employees.
“Considering that for much of the year federal employees have been reimbursed at rates that do not cover the increased costs of gasoline, any delay is unfair to these workers traveling on government business,” President Kelley said. “The time to provide some relief is right now.”