Blumenauer Introduces a Tax Break for Bike-Share Commuters

If you drive to work, the feds will subsidize that. But if a Citi Bike (New York), or a Divvy bike (Chicago), or CoGo (Columbus, Ohio) is your ride to work, no such luck. But that could change. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland reports that Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) has introduced legislation that would establish tax incentives for bike-share commuters:

It’s a new goal for the city transportation commissioner turned Congressman, who spent years pushing for the IRS’s first bike commuting benefit. The $20-a-month deduction finally passed as part of the 2008 bank bailout (despite Blumenauer’s “no” vote on that package).

Neither the existing bike commute deduction nor Blumenauer’s proposal would affect personal income taxes. Instead, they let employers (including governments and nonprofits) reimburse workers for bike expenses or bike sharing passes like any other fringe benefit, and treat that cost as a business expense.

Unfortunately, the bill is limited by a persistent oversight in tax policy that restricts its benefits to those who both live and work in areas that have bikesharing stations.

Blumenauer has fought multiple legislative battles in recent years to ensure that the tax code treats transit commuters and car commuters equally.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Carfree with Kids explains why, for her, biking is more of a practical way to get around than a passion. Vibrant Bay Area considers what makes a walkable hotel and how policies can support them. And Joe Urban describes a new Minneapolis transit-oriented development that, he says, could be a model for the nation.

  • anon

    Can someone clarify this for me:

    If the congressmen passes the bill….
    tax incentive for taking train to work…yes
    tax incentive for driving to work…..NO
    tax incentive for renting a bike to get to work….yes
    tax incentive for buying your own bike to ride to work…..NO?

  • Andy

    This will be a flop, just like the current pennies available to people that bike to work. We need to stop paying drivers, simple as that. Level the playing field and let the cheapest options highlight themselves.

  • High_n_Dry

    There is a tax incentive for driving to work. Pre-tax dollars for parking up to $240 per month – easily spent parking in the Loop..

  • anderw

    These articles focus on bike sharing but the text of the bill allows for either renting or purchasing a bike:

    “For the purposes of this subsection, the term qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement means any employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, or bikesharing program, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.”

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2288/text

  • mckillio

    Great, more complexity to the tax system…

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