Union: Transit tax benefit should be permanent

The bill to prevent the expiration is sponsored by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Peter King (R-NY) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDemocrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Democrats have a growing tax problem with SALT Progressives up pressure on Biden to back COVID vaccine patent waiver MORE (D-OR).

The Washington-based ATU said on Tuesday that it did not make sense for Congress to allow the tax to lapse because a similar credit for parking for commuters who drive to work would be left in place.

“With public transit ridership at record highs and fares increasing across the country, the millions of commuters who choose public transit should not be penalized with a tax increase while those who drive and park receive a tax break,” ATU President Larry Hanley said in a statement. “It just doesn’t make sense. When people take public transit, there are fewer cars stuck in traffic, decreased pollution, less dependence on foreign oil and it’s good for the economy.”

Until the passage of the 2009 economic stimulus package, the benefit for transit commuters had been roughly half of the break that was given to drivers. Transit commuters were allowed to withhold $125, while automobile drivers could set aside as much as $240.

The stimulus provision ran out after 2011, but transit break was revived and extend until the end of this  year in the bill by the legislation that was passed by Congress this week to resolve avert the "fiscal cliff" budget crisis earlier this year. 

Hanley said it should be a no-brainer for Congress to make the commuter tax break permanent now.

“We should be encouraging Americans to use public transit,” he said. “One full 40-foot bus takes 58 cars off the road. Per year, public transportation saves more than 885 million gallons of gasoline, which means that the community is healthier, with fewer medical problems caused by air and water pollution.”