Senate committee revives transit tax break

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The Senate Finance Committee voted to revive a tax break for commuters who take public transportation to work in a package of tax break extensions that was approved on Thursday.

The bill restores the amount of their monthly incomes that transit riders are allowed to set aside before taxes for their commutes to work to $240 until 2015.

The commuter benefit had been reduced to $125 on Jan. 1 over the objection of public transit advocates, who argued that a similar tax break for drivers who park in garages was left unchanged. 

The measure that included the transit tax, which is known as the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which was approved on a voice vote Thursday.

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Ed Wytkind praised lawmakers for reviving the tax break for transit riders.

"Congress effectively implemented a tax increase on working people on January 1 when it failed to avert the roll-back of transit tax benefits,” Wytkind said. “Transportation is an expensive part of a household budget and in many cases is the second largest expense. Further, when transit benefits snapped back to a lower rate, Americans lost the parity they enjoyed between parking and transit benefits.
Wytkind added that "the transit tax benefit helps working people — those who use our transit systems, and those who work for them.

“This benefit is also an example of what happens when government works: People save commuting costs and have access to safe rides to and from work, and employers have the confidence that their employees will get to work safely and on time,” he said. "We have long called for the full reinstatement of the transit tax benefit and wholeheartedly endorse today's action."