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Final tax reform plan eliminates bike commuter benefit

Published December 18, 2017

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The reconciled federal tax reform bill, which Congress is expected to vote on this week, eliminates a bicycle commuting benefit that allowed employers to reimburse workers as much as $20 per month for bike commuting expenses.

The benefit had been retained in the House version of the tax reform bill, but eliminated in the Senate's bill. The reconciled plan, released by the joint conference committee on Friday, sticks with the Senate's elimination.

PeopleForBikes and the League of American Bicyclists had campaigned to retain the benefit. According to PeopleForBikes, its supporters sent 3,500 letters to members of Congress in all 50 states, asking that the benefit be retained. It was estimated the benefit cost the federal government $5 million a year.

In a web posting, the League's policy director, Ken McLeod, said, "This is obviously disappointing and a big missed opportunity to reform commuter benefits so that they better serve low and middle income employees who are usually not offered the current commuter benefits and provide incentives for reducing congestion by encouraging people to bike, walk, and take transit — rather than continue our current benefits that overwhelmingly subsidize car commutes for high income workers in congested cities."

In a presentation on its website, the League argues that benefits for public transit and parking (retained in the tax reform) cost many times as much as the bike benefit, while discouraging biking, walking and car pooling to work.

Although legislators have continued to make changes to the bill as late as Friday evening, it is expected to pass both chambers this week.

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