CTAI Blog

Tax Breaks for Mass Transit Users

Sunday, March 03, 2013

 In 2013, users of mass transit can expect their tax returns to be a little easier to stomach. That's because users of public transportation will be allowed the same benefits as those who commute to work by car. In 2012, taxpayers who drove to work were allowed $240 monthly to help alleviate parking costs, but users of mass transit were only able to set aside $125 per month for travel costs. This year, as part of a provision that was tucked inside the legislation which helped keep Congress from falling off the fiscal cliff, those who commute by transit will receive identical benefits to those who drive to work-- $245 to set aside each month.

“Someone in the highest federal tax bracket – 30 to 39.6 percent – could save about $570 a year. Someone in the 15 percent tax bracket could save about $260 a year,” explained Lisa Greene-Lewis, lead CPA at the American Tax and Financial Center at TurboTax. Obviously, this is great news for anyone who commutes by bus or rail! As reported by Bloomberg News, that's 2.7 million families. Further, Congress decided to make this change retroactive for 2012 as well, so the benefits this year may even pay off double for some. Get the full details from Today.com.

The current provision will only be in effect for tax year 2013; to support mass transit and foster healthier attitudes toward ridesharing in our communities, this change must be made permanent. Whether for the same or different dollar amount, parity in benefits with commuters who drive is crucial to encouraging people to commute responsibly!

AASHTO's Future of Transportation for 2012: CTAI's Take

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified its list of top ten transportation topics for 2012. Below is our take on those that apply to CTAI’s members and Idaho:

1. Enacting a long-term transportation bill: CTAI will continue to work with Idaho’s congressional delegation and staff to push for the enactment of a long-term transportation bill.

2. Managing in lean times – addressing the problem of the nation’s aging bridges, highways, and transit systems with stagnant or reduced funding: As one of two states without a dedicated source of transportation funding, and given the current economic times, CTAI is working to educate Idahoans in support of transportation funding. We received a grant to develop the I’M4CTAI campaign in which we sign up at least 1,000 transportation supporters to advocate on behalf of Idaho’s transportation needs and sources of funding.

3. Responding to and planning for natural disasters: CTAI has been working with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security and is now working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources to identify Idaho’s transportation resources for recovery and rebuilding – in the event of a natural disaster in our state. Our partnerships with these agencies will help mobilize the vehicles needed to help get Idahoans out of danger and to help transportation providers rebuild after the disaster.

4. Reducing traffic deaths: CTAI supports safer roads and reduced deaths on Idaho roads and highways. CTAI will provide support for any legislation that improves traffic safety for Idahoans.

5. Increasing the visibility of transportation as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign: CTAI will work through national agencies in the education of long term transportation needs for our politicians.

6. Generating new ways to fund transportation: As part of the I’M4CTAI campaign, CTAI will work to mobilize advocates and partner agencies in support of a local option tax authority to help cities and counties fund transportation needs in Idaho.

7. Advancing intercity passenger rail

8. Engaging the business community in support of transportation: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to educate Idaho Businesses on the benefits of improving transportation options such as public transportation, carpooling, vanpooling, and ridematching.

9. Serving a growing elderly population, both rural and urban: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to partner with senior centers and agencies that serve the elderly population in identifying opportunities and partnerships that will lead to improved transportation options for seniors.

10. Responding to new stormwater reforms and other environmental regulations.

Drop Proposed Changes to the House Rules Regarding the Highway Trust Fund

Monday, December 27, 2010
Under current House rule, members may not offer a bill, joint resolution, amendment or conference report that reduces spending levels for highway, highway safety, and public transportation below the funding amounts that are specified in the authorization law (in this case, extensions of SAFETEA-LU). This rule holds regardless of the source of the revenues that support those spending levels.

In the House Rule package for the 112th Congress, Republicans propose to change this current rule. The change would eliminate the provisions which require appropriation funding for highways and transit to be identical to levels set in the authorizing law. This would create opportunities for user fees and transit general fund resources to be used for non-transportation purposes. For example, the new rule would allow members to offer amendments to direct highway and transit resources to other purposes, such as deficit reduction.

As you may recall from the Governor’s Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding December 2010 report, Idaho’s transportation system has a significant funding shortfall of more than $400 million. This proposed House Rule could lower the federal funding Idaho receives for transportation making the funding shortfall for highways and public transportation even larger.

CTAI is working alongside transportation providers, community leaders, and local citizens to improve mobility options in Idaho. We ask for everyone's support to drop the proposed changes to the House Rules regarding the Highway Trust Fund from the final package would significantly benefit Idaho’s transportation system and the Idaho citizens.

Ahh! Transit benefits about to expire!

Monday, November 22, 2010

If you take transit to get to work each day, this coming January you could pay more out of your own pocket when the transit tax deduction gets cut in half. Meanwhile drivers will keep their full parking benefit, which is double what transit commuters will be eligible to receive. For those who spend more than $120 a month on your commute in a vanpool, train or bus, the federal government will be sending a message loud and clear: they’d like you to start driving to work, where you can get $230 for parking deducted from your paycheck tax free.

A provision in the stimulus bill increased the transit benefit from $120 to $230, finally putting it on equal footing with the $230 parking benefit and extending this great benefit to everyone, whether they drive or take transit each day. But that provision is about to expire unless Congress votes to extend it during their December session.

Transportation is the second largest household expense for many households. The millions of Americans who depend on transit to get to work each day shouldn’t have to pay more to do something that also saves us energy, reduces congestion and emissions, and uses less oil.

If you do not think it is fair, then tell congress! Transportation for America has setup a petition you can sign to urge Congress to restore the transit benefit and make it equal to the parking benefit. Signatures will be delivered December 1, so you must act fast! (Source: Transportation for America)