Photo Credit: f650biker via Flickr
Remember that Renewable Energy Tax legislation that passed a few months ago? It was filled with all sorts of green goodies, like alternative energy credits and money for weatherization assistance programs. Congress, doing something uncharacteristically awesome, slipped in an Easter egg that went went mostly unnoticed. Hidden deep within the flapdoodle and flummery of congressional legalese jargon is a nifty little tax credit for commuters who bike to work. The Bicycle Commuter Act
The unnoticed tax credit was called the Bicycle Commuter Act. It was penned by Oregonian Congressman Earl Blumenauer. The aim of the bill was to give bicycle commuters a tax break similar to the ones that other commuters are eligible for.
What the Bicycle Commuter Act Offers
The credits breakdown like this:
From Mr. Blumenauer’s website:
(You’ll also find the legalese version of the bill on his website.)
For employees who regularly commute to work by bicycle, employers may offset the costs of bicycle purchase, improvement, repair, and storage at the rate of $20 per month. Based on how the employer chooses to offer the benefits, the employee may bring receipts to be reimbursed, may sign up for regular monthly payments, or devise some sort
of voucher system with their employer.
Bike commuters are not allowed to receive transit or parking benefits in addition to the bike benefit.
The bike commuter benefit can be provided by employers beginning January 1, 2009.
Who Provides This Benefit For You?
The discount comes through your employers who probably contract a commuter benefit provider. Accor Services is one such provider. Speak to your company's liaison to the benefit provider about receiving your bicycling commuter credits. Your employers may elect not to provide these benefits. It would be wise for your employers to do so. They can save about 9.5% of their FICA contributions by participating in a commuter program.
What Do You Have Do as A Commuter?
Obviously, you have to ride a bike to work. You don’t have to ride it everyday, but you do have to commute by bike at least three times a week.
From the League of American Bicyclists:
Ride your bike for a substantial portion of your commute.
Accept only the $20 benefit for biking for transit benefits. Unfortunately, the law prohibits people from accepting both the transit benefit and biking in the same month. The SFBC is working to fix this by helping Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR) pass H.R. 863.
Use the money for a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair or storage at your local shop!
The League of American Bicyclists provide reimbursement cards that make it easy for you to invoice your rebate.
If you already bike to work, it's like a free twenty bucks. (I smell a pizza party.) Otherwise, it's just one more good reason to do so.