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  1. #1
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    Bailout provided passage of Bicycle Commuter bill

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    From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

    Congress Passes Commuter Act



    WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—Employers of people who bike to work stand to gain a $20 per month tax credit per cycling employee, according to the final version of the Wall Street bailout bill, H.R. 1424, passed this afternoon.

    The House passed the bill today with a final vote of 263-171, a comfortable margin that was 58 more votes than the measure garnered in Monday's stunning defeat. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 74 for and 25 against the bill.

    The bicycle tax provision was part of an additional $110 billion in line items added to the already $700 billion bailout package.

    What does bicycle commuting have to do with credit issues or covering the debt racked up on Wall Street? Bicycle commuting advocate Earl Blumenauer, a Democratic Representative from Oregon, was one of the 228 Representatives who voted against the House version of the bailout package on Monday. House members looking to pass a bailout bill needed to convince as least 12 of the dissenters to switch their position and vote for a bailout bill.

    According to a Blumenauer spokeswoman, the bicycle commuting tax credit had the Representative’s attention, according to a report by www.govexec.com. However, Blumenauer said he was opposed to the bill because it failed to include bankruptcy equity for homeowners, not because employers of bicycle commuters suffered unfair tax burdens. He is also against incentives for coal-based liquids, tar sands and oil shale also included in the Senate’s bill. Blumenauer voted against the bailout bill in today's vote but his pet bicycling project passed with it.

    Congressman Blumenauer spearheaded a seven-year campaign to extend commuter tax benefits to those who bike to work.

    Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said the Bicycle Commuter Act has been held up getting through with previous bills.

    “It’s been attached to a variety of different bills or devices—climate change, energy, transportation,” Clarke said. “It’s ironic that it would wind up in a financial rescue package, but we’ll take it. I’m not going to quibble with the method; I’m glad to see it done.”

    The employer tax break is laid out in Sec. 211, “Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters," which is under the Transportation and Domestic Fuel Security Provision section in H.R. 1424. The $20 a month tax relief per bicycle commuting employee is to cover the cost of any employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee “for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.”

    "It's definitely a day to celebrate just this one little thing that has been achieved after seven years," Clarke said. "It may not be a total game changer—it's still a relatively small break—but it gets us closer to the kind of treatment that cyclists in the U.K. and other parts of the world have had for years."
    I can do five more miles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    251
    I'm a little confused: If I'm reading this right, the employer gets a tax break for each employee who commutes to work? That's great, but why are they getting credit for expenses that we incur, like "bike repairs and improvements" that were cited in the article?

    Am I missing something?
    You're invited to visit my blog: http://tris3kidsandlife.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by indigoiis View Post
    The $20 a month tax relief per bicycle commuting employee is to cover the cost of any employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee
    So if I'm reading this right if you work for a company that pays you to ride .... your employer gets paid back to pay you to ride. Which could mean that more companies will pay us to ride etc.

    $20 a month x 12, I could get two of these

    http://www.teamestrogen.com/prodCI_A8522.html
    Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on the road ~ Motobecane Mixte
    N+1 new bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Commuter ~ Soma Buena Vista Mixte

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  4. #4
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    Jun 2006
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    Hmm. I'm self-employed and commute. Wonder if I get it.

  5. #5
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    Mrs. KnottedYet
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    Probably not

    But you don't have co-workers snide comments about your shoes, and managers question if you can bring the bike into the building and ...

    That's worth $20.00 a month.
    Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on the road ~ Motobecane Mixte
    N+1 new bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Commuter ~ Soma Buena Vista Mixte

    http://madeinusareviews.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    S. Lake Tahoe CA and Marion Mass
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    I saw this and did a Scooby Doo double take. They were making fun of some of the other piggy back bills like the wooden arrow one for kids and they mentioned the bike one but didn't make fun of it.

    Maybe this would convince some employers to put in showers? I thought at first I would be able to write it off. Which would of been better. Will there be employers that use this falsely? I hope not. I wish tho the biker got the cash.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Omaha Nebraska USA
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    216
    I think it's like a flex plan. If the employee pays for it, the employee can pay with "pre-tax" dollars through a fund administered by the employer. If the employer pays for it, the employer takes a tax deduction.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pays for WHAT?

    I think it's just a tax incentive to get employers to encourage bike commuting. If you work in a big city where parking is scarce, and your employer puts a bike rack or showers in to encourage bike commuting, or the HR department launches an awareness campaign, the EMPLOYER gets to take a $20 a month tax credit per bike-commuting employee.

    I don't know how they'd prove how many bike commute, AND what if I commute only part time? And what kind of trouble would a company in the 'burbs of Dallas go to to claim the credit when they know almost all of the employees are driving? Sounds to me like an entrance into regulating bike commuting, licensing bikes, and riders, etc., etc. That's bad news to me.

    Karen
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    insidious ungovernable cardboard

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    St. Paul, MN
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    so obviously it is full of loop holes and lacks any direction or responsibility. huh I wonder if the rest of the bail out plan is like that. yay for poor government management of our lives!
    Thanks TE! You pushed me half way over!
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
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    Public transit incentives like this are very common. I think this is a good start that will likely need tweaking and improvement, but it's a start and that's a whole lot better than we've ever had before. Let's not trash the whole program; I certainly don't know the details.

  11. #11
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    Jul 2008
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    Maryland
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    What if you work for a non-profit that doesn't file taxes? We have one employee who is in charge of all of the campus "green" projects and is very supportive of bicycle commuting, but we/he can't find the money to get a bike rack installed at the fitness center (where I go to shower and change). This kind of tax credit could help pay for something like that.

    Sarah

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    The non-profit is big enough to have a fitness center?

    I think they can find the money for a bike rack.

    But tax credits don't apply to nonprofits at all, because ALL the taxes are "credited"!

    Karen
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    insidious ungovernable cardboard

  13. #13
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    Rhode Island
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    I think getting a copy of the exact bill wording is in order... anyone know where to find that?
    I can do five more miles.

  14. #14
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    Jul 2008
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    Maryland
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckervill View Post
    The non-profit is big enough to have a fitness center?

    I think they can find the money for a bike rack.

    But tax credits don't apply to nonprofits at all, because ALL the taxes are "credited"!
    It's a college, so of course there's a fitness center! And yeah, it bugs me that they budget for big-ticket things like buildings but we can't get $6,000 in the budget for a suicide prevention program. Since the board has to approve every expenditure, we don't have a lot of flexibility in the budget. The trick is to convince the right person early in the budget process that this is a necessary expense. But since we can't increase our budgets from one year to the next these days, we have to make do with level funding, and since prices for everything keep going up, this means that in reality we have to make do with less each year. And since there's only a handful of us on campus who commute by bike, that makes our needs a pretty low priority in the tiny "green campus" budget.

    The reason I asked is because employees at non-profits can use pre-tax flex accounts for medical and childcare expenses. I'm not clear if this legislation is strictly a benefit for a tax-paying employer or if it's something that has to be offered to employees like a flex account.

    Sarah

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfa View Post
    It's a college, so of course there's a fitness center!
    I've never heard of a college without bike racks! Don't the students ride bikes to class? Couldn't an argument be made that bike racks would be a benefit for the students?

 

 

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