T4America Blog

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House bill extends transit benefit through 2014, leaving permanent extension in doubt

Transit commuters would see their tax benefits restored under a House bill introduced yesterday — but only for two weeks.

The “Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014” (H.R. 5571) would preserve a number of tax breaks set to expire at the end of the year, while restoring the amount of monthly pre-tax income transit riders can set aside to $245 from $130. This increase would put transit on a par with the tax benefit given to drivers for parking, but only from the bill’s adoption until the end of 2014.

A longer-term fix was included in a package developed last week by the House Ways and Means Committee, but President Obama’s threatened veto of a package he saw as too hard on low- and middle-income taxpayers left it dead in the water. While many had hoped Congress would establish permanent parity between drivers and transit commuters this fall, that possibility is dwindling fast.

Meanwhile, a recent report heavily criticized the parking benefit as “subsidizing congestion” by luring 820,000 additional cars to the road at a cost of $7.3 billion, with most of the benefit going to higher-income earners. [You can read the entire Transit Center report here.]