A pair of legislative updates from Metro’s government relations staff. Some explanation on the second one — it means that the $240 spent on transit benefits month is exempt from withholding taxes, meaning more money in the pocket of commuters. Congress had in 2011 rudely allowed that number to slip from $230 to $125. A news release from the American Public Transportation Assn. about the commuter tax benefit is after the jump.
The update from Metro’s government relations staff:
U.S. Senate Confirms Yvonne Burke for Amtrak Board
The full U.S. Senate has confirmed President Obama’s nomination of former Los Angeles County Supervisor and California Transportation Commissioner Yvonne Burke to serve on the Board of Directors of AMTRAK. Commissioner Burke will join the Board of Directors that oversees AMTRAK, the informal name for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Metro staff have been in consistent communication with Commissioner Burke to provide information on the importance of AMTRAK in enhancing mobility across the State of California and specifically in southern California. We congratulate Commissioner Burke on the Senate’s action to confirm her nomination and look forward to working with her as she begins her efforts as a member of the AMTRAK Board of Directors.
Congress Approves Extension of CNG Tax Credit and Commuter Tax Benefit Program
As part of the fiscal cliff legislation adopted by the Senate and House yesterday, a provision was included that will extend (through December 31, 2013) the increase in the monthly exclusion for employer-provided transit and vanpool benefits from $125 to $240. By increasing the monthly exclusion for transit and vanpool participants, the benefit now matches those provided for employer-provided parking benefits.
Also included in the fiscal cliff legislation was a provision to extend, for one year, the CNG tax credit. In addition to being extended through December 31, 2013, the CNG tax credit language included in the final bill provides for the tax credits to be retroactive for 2012. This benefit is worth approximately $20 million to our agency.
Metro is deeply appreciative to our U.S. Senators and Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation members for supporting both the commuter transit tax benefit and CNG tax credit language in H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that was cleared by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.
Congress Makes Public Transit Commute Benefit Equal to the Parking Benefit “On behalf of the millions of Americans who ride public transportation, I commend Congress for passing legislation to increase the public transit commuter benefit, and making it equal to the parking benefit. With parity between public transit and parking benefits, people have the ability to make the best reasonable transportation choice,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “For 2013, there is no longer a financial bias in the federal tax code against public transit use. This has always been an issue of fairness, and public transit advocates are pleased that the federal tax code will again provide transit riders with the same tax benefits according to those who drive to work.”Under the new “fiscal cliff” legislation passed by Congress this week, the parity between public transit and parking benefits are now up to $240 a month and are retroactive from January 1, 2012. This will expire on December 31, 2013. APTA urged Congress to permanently extend the transit commuter tax benefit to the same level as the parking tax benefit.
“It is our hope that in the new Congress, legislation will pass to make the public transit commuter benefit parity permanent,” said Melaniphy.
The bill also extends through 2013, the alternative fuels tax credit refund that many public transit systems utilize to offset costs associated with using natural gas and other alternatively-fueled vehicles.