4/26/12: Congress must act quickly to reinstate parity between parking and mass transit benefits and provide much needed relief to hard-working, middle class Americans, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley told a House committee today.
“Many working people, who use public transportation to get to and from work, rely on the transit benefit which has provided much needed relief in their commuting costs. Many of these workers are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits is imposing a severe financial burden on them,” stated Kelley.
Kelley submitted her statement to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures during a hearing on expiring tax provisions. Parity between the two elements of the transportation benefit ended on Dec. 31 when Congress failed to extend the mass transit portion, which had previously been increased to $230 per month. The transit benefit reverted to a maximum of $125 per month, while the parking benefit increased at the start of this year to $240 per month due to cost of living adjustments.
Since Congress failed to extend the transit benefit, NTEU has been a leading advocate for parity between transit and parking benefits. President Kelley has submitted testimony to both the Senate and the House, and NTEU has worked closely with members of Congress to address this critical issue through tax legislation or standalone bills.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), sponsor of H.R. 2412, the “Commuter Benefits Equity Act of 2011,” which would reinstate parity, said “It simply makes sense to re-establish parity between parking and mass transit benefits. It’s good for employers, good for employees, good for the environment and helps take cars off our congested roads. I am hopeful that we can restore parity – which has bipartisan support – in the coming weeks.”
“Reinstating the monthly transit subsidy to a level equal to the parking benefit also encourages greater transit ridership, which helps lessen congestion on roadways, reduces pollution and conserves energy,” Kelley added. “Furthermore, it certainly makes no sense for the government to provide workers using environmentally helpful mass transit a lesser benefit than those driving and parking personal vehicles.”
The NTEU leader also noted that extending the mass transit benefit also provides tax relief for the employers that offer the benefit. As it is a pre-tax benefit, employers do not have to pay payroll taxes on the benefit. Kelley cited analysis by financial services company Edenred USA that found employers saved more $300 million by offering this critical benefit to their employees in 2010.