Commuter Benefits: What Are They & How Do They Work?

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More and more local governments (and two states) are passing laws that require companies of a certain size to offer their employees commuter benefits. The following are the jurisdictions that require employers to offer transit benefits to their employees, as of January 2024. Reduce your commuting expenses by taking advantage of commuter benefits. The IRS allows for certain work-related transit and parking expenses to be deducted from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis. Because you do not pay taxes on these expenses, you can save on commuter expenses.

Mass transit expenses

Commuter transit and parking accounts allow you to use pre-tax funds to pay for commuting costs. Even with the remote work revolution, plenty of people still travel daily to a job site or office. With transportation prices continuing to rise, commuter benefits are always welcomed.

What happens to an employee’s commuter benefits account balance if they’re terminated?

Use your commuter benefits to purchase qualified products and services. If you’re doing it alone, think about whether you have time for setup and administration or if you’d rather use an outside service to manage it. This article explains commuter benefits and how employees can use them along with answers to common questions about this valuable job perk. Some companies offer them as part of their employee benefits package to help their employees save on their commutes. The unused benefits have become another headache for many commuters in New York, where more people use public transit than in any other American city and where the pandemic has emptied out subways, trains and buses. Many people working from home or out of a job can’t access the hundreds of dollars deducted from their paychecks for transit expenses.

Maintenance and repair expenses

However, a new card will not be sent, unless it has expired (cards issued prior to April 2021 are valid for 3 years; cards issued after April 2021 are valid for 5 years). Your previous card will have the requested funds transferred to it for your use. If you no longer have your previous card, please follow the instructions to request a replacement by clicking Manage Cards from the righthand side of the homepage. You must first create your Commuter account or log in to your Commuter account. Once an employee has been terminated, they have up to 90 days from their termination date to submit any expense claims. Nothing in these materials is intended to apply to a particular individual’s financial situation.

Members who submit their Commuter Card or Parking pass orders before the order deadline (in many cases, the 10th of the month) will receive the order before the first day of the following benefit month. Please note that members will not receive an order immediately after placing one. Members can view their order deadline by logging into their Commuter account and selecting the Parking or Transit tab. To avoid having to manually place an order every month, members can set up recurring orders for the month(s) that they would like to submit an order for.

The Commuter Benefits Program is for NYC government employees only and is offered by Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, the City’s commuter benefits provider. If companies offer post-tax commuting stipends or perks, the companies can decide how much they want to offer and the substantiation requirements for employees to access said stipends or perks. Employees will pay income taxes on the expenses for which they reimburse. In this post, we’ll walk you through the crucial role commuter benefits can play in your overall compensation package, helping the company to save money and achieve business and culture goals without raising salaries across the board. Los Angeles, CA-based employers with a total of 50 to 249 full and part-time employees at a single worksite must offer a commuter tax benefit to every full-time employee at that worksite – read the full bill. If as an employer, you want to encourage people to come back into the office, and you don’t want the company’s culture to suffer because of it, offering a commuter benefit can help you accomplish that.

  1. Many transit authorities and/or providers offer reduced fare programs for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
  2. You can pause, change, or cancel contributions to your Commuter Transit or Parking account at any time, although there are deadlines for changes and cancellations for specific benefit months.
  3. Companies and employees everywhere can reap the rewards of a pre-tax commuter benefits program.
  4. The Commuter Benefits Program is for NYC government employees only and is offered by Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, the City’s commuter benefits provider.

You may have seen recent news coverage of customers of financial services companies falling victim to social engineering scams. Scammers impersonate a trusted company to convince their targets into revealing or handing over sensitive information such as insurance, banking or login commuter transit benefit credentials. This scamming can happen via text, email or websites set up to look like the trusted company. HSA card issued by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa. Lively partners with financial institutions in order to provide its products.

Your employer sponsored plan may exclude reimbursement for certain categories of items. Check your plan document and summary plan description or contact your benefits department for specific coverage details. For tax years beginning after January 1, 2021 the IRS allows up to $270 a month to be deducted pre-tax for commuter costs, and up to $270 a month pre-tax for parking costs. Typically, any unused funds left in your account at the end of the year can be carried over to the next plan year — as long as you remain with your current employer. If you change employers, retire, or get terminated, you have a set amount of time after your last day of employment to use the funds before they’re forfeited. Be sure to talk to your employer directly about their policies.

The benefits, which aim to reward commuters for taking transit to work, could now end up costing people money instead. In fact, 68% of employers think employees should be back in the office at least three days a week, while 68% of employees say they prefer working from home. And job postings that allow for remote or hybrid work get seven times the responses as those that require the employees to be on-site five days a week. Offering a commuter benefit (either pre- or post-tax) is also a cost-effective way to increase employees’ compensation packages without increasing their salaries across the board. A Commuter Parking Account is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for parking as part of your daily commute to work. Basic maintenance and repairs may be periodically needed on personal vehicles and bikes used for commuting to work.

Elect a commuter benefit to pay for qualified products and services. Commuters in the U.S. spend around $8,466 on their commute every year, which is about 19% of their annual income.1 That makes commuter benefits all the more essential. The 66th Logistics Readiness Squadron offers a commuter shuttle service for Hanscom AFB military, federal civilian employees, as well as contractor personnel.

Plans can be structured to allow employees to save money, pre-tax, to pay for commuting expenses like parking near the office, fares for mass transit like trains and subways, and carpooling expenses. Or plans can be structured to offer post-tax stipends from the employer to pay for bicycle maintenance (for employees that bike to work), gas, and rideshare services like Lyft and Uber. For example, a company located in a large metropolitan area may provide public transportation benefits — as that may be the primary mode of transportation in a big city. But a company located in a smaller rural area may not offer that benefit if their employees generally drive to work — though they may offer a parking benefit. If companies offer a pre-tax commuter benefit account, employees contribute their money before income taxes are assessed. If employees contribute the maximum allowed, companies can save almost $300 per employee per year on FICA taxes.

State you recognize and appreciate the impact commuting to the office has on their personal lives, and their financial, mental and physical health. In providing commuter benefits (perhaps in addition to others like Lifestyle Spending Accounts), your goal is to share in the commuting burden because it benefits everyone to be together in the office (at least part time). Crafting an impactful and economically efficient benefits package for a diverse workforce is a little science, a little art.

Consult with your employer to find out what those limitations might be. Our commuter benefits are designed to meet the needs of the flexible, modern employee. Generally, employees can’t use commuter benefits funds to pay for tunnel, bridge or highway tolls (E-ZPass). To get a better idea of potential options, here are some common types of expenses covered under commuter benefits programs. Participants who qualify must enroll in the reduced fare program, if offered by their mode of transit, and use the reduced fare pricing when certifying their commuting expenses on the DoD NCR mass transit benefit application. Many commuters have hundreds or even thousands of dollars tied up in transit benefits — money they earned and cannot use for other purposes like bills and mortgages.

If an employee paid for an expense that’s covered by their commuter benefits, they can submit a claim to their commuter benefits administrator for cash reimbursement. A couple of examples of this would be if their card was declined at a parking meter or station, or if they accidentally left their card at home. Under this program, participating employees in the National Capital Region (NCR) receive “transit passes” in amounts equal to their personal commuting costs, not to exceed $315 per month (parking costs not included). To receive this benefit, employees must relinquish any federally subsidized parking permit, and may not be listed as part of a DoD carpool for purposes of qualifying for a parking pass. A Health Savings Account (HSA) and Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) provide up to 30% savings on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Except you can’t contribute to an HSA and Healthcare FSA at the same time.

HR teams must meet employees’ wants and needs while maintaining fidelity to the budget and meeting business goals. So it’s not a surprise that navigating the plethora of flexible benefits a company can offer can be difficult and some benefits, like commuter benefits, get lost in the shuffle. Employees usually can’t use commuter benefits funds to pay for fuel, mileage or other costs related to their vehicle. Generally, you can access the money in your commuter benefits account in a few ways.

These commuter benefits are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes. Commuter benefits are a simple way for both employers and employees to save money. Put in place to encourage the use of public transportation, these programs allow employers and employees to use pre-tax dollars to pay for a variety of commuting expenses. Contributions are transferred from your paycheck and credited to your commuter benefits account with pre-tax dollars. Because you’re not paying taxes on the money you contribute, you’re able to lower your taxable income and have more funds to use on eligible expenses.

Employees then submit receipts to get reimbursed for their commuting expenses. Full-time remote employees and government entities are exempt and employers are not required to provide a commuter benefit unless an employee requests one. Once requested, employers have 60 days to provide a commuter benefit. Employers can offer an employee-paid, pre-tax payroll deduction, or provide an employer-paid direct benefit such as a public transit key card or transportation shuttle. Commuter benefits are employer-sponsored plans that help employees save and pay for their commute to and from work.

Illinois requires employers with 50 or more covered, full-time employees in a specific geographic area, who live within one mile of a transit route, to offer a pre-tax commuter benefit plan. Some commuter benefits programs may offer reimbursement for parking expenses incurred at or near your place of work or at the location for which you commute to work. Parking expenses could include costs for meters, parking garages, and lots. Employers and employees can use commuter benefits to their advantage. Paying with tax free dollars helps save money and reduce overall transportation costs.

Let’s explore the advantages of each to help you decide which wins in HSA vs FSA. New Jersey requires employers with more than 20 employees to offer a pre-tax transportation fringe benefit to employees who are not currently in a collective bargaining agreement. One of the areas where there tends to be misalignment is when it comes to the question of where employees should be required to work and who should pay for the commute if they’re required to be in the office. The majority of millennials (who represent the majority of the workforce) believe their employers should help pay for their commute.

Commuter benefits — also known as transportation benefits — are perks or compensation offered to employees to help offset the cost of traveling to and from work. Lively offers a comprehensive suite of flexible benefit options to help you achieve your business and people goals while maintaining fidelity to your budget. We bring our extensive industry knowledge of what’s popular, what’s working (and what’s not) and which benefits pair well together, to our client partnerships so that you can craft the most impactful benefits package possible. Recent studies have shown that employee burnout is expected to reach critical levels in 2024 and one of the things that employees have stated they want most is a flexible work schedule. The more time the employees spend commuting, the less time they have to engage in activities outside of work.

A commuter highway vehicle is any vehicle with a seating capacity of at least six adults, not including the driver. Airfares aren’t typically recognized as eligible expenses under this job benefit. The shuttle service offers morning and afternoon runs, with the morning pick up located at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, or MBTA, Concord Commuter Rail Station located at 90 Thoreau St, Concord, Massachusetts. Log In to Your Account on the WMATA (Metro) website to register your new card and verify the name attached to the card matches your CAC name in your Participant Status. You can also add money to your personal “purse” after logging in.

Any investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not deposits or obligations of the bank or its affiliates; not guaranteed by the bank or its affiliates; and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Add your requested amount, up to $315 pre-tax per month (for 2024), dates, frequency for card, and click Next. But keep in mind that if you stop working for your employer, you forfeit any unused money left in your account. Free and expedited shipping offers do not apply to shipping outside of the contiguous United States. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. The action you just performed triggered the security solution.

Per IRS regulations, pre-tax funds cannot be refunded to you if you terminate. Employer-Sponsored Plans are not individually owned and amounts available under the Employer-Sponsored Plan are not FDIC insured. Please contact a legal or tax professional for advice on eligibility, tax treatment, and restrictions. Please contact your plan administrator with questions about enrollment or plan restrictions. Questions within the survey cover topics such as daily commuting methods and interest in vanpool and carpool options, with opportunities for employees to receive further details.

Companies and employees everywhere can reap the rewards of a pre-tax commuter benefits program. However, some employers allow commuter benefits funds to pay for Lyft Shared and Uber Pool rides. Employees who travel to work by way of ride-share services might be able to get reimbursed for these expenses. Some employers provide monthly or annual stipends to help offset these costs. However, there may be specific limitations when using your commuter benefits to pay for ride shares.

And they risk losing these benefits entirely if they are laid off or change employers, or if they simply do not go back to taking public transit. So what is a company to do if they want to retain their top talent and attract new talent? And while offering the commuter benefits, address the elephant in the room.

There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. Quick and easy access to MetLife customer support services and resources. A list of Qualified Transportation Providers servicing the National Capital Region highlights bus, rail, and vanpool services for your convenience. SmarTrip® cards can be purchased at Metro stations with parking facilities, Commuter Stores, CVS stores, online, or at over 400 retail locations across the region. All others, please check with your specific transportation provider. To review your payroll deductions amounts and make any necessary payroll deduction changes visit NYCAPS Employee Self Service (ESS) or contact your agency’s Transit Benefit Coordinator.

You can pay directly for expenses with a smart debit card connected your account, directly to providers through an online portal, or out of pocket (to then file a claim for reimbursement later). So she enrolled in a benefit that allows commuters to deduct up to $270 a month from their paycheck for transit expenses while lowering their taxable income. But when Ms. Damore, a pricing manager, started working from home early last year because of the pandemic, the transit benefit kept being taken out of her paycheck until she remembered to stop it.

Some employers offer an allowance to help reduce some of these costs. Employers need employees to adopt and engage with their benefits and one way to encourage employees to adopt and contribute to (i.e. engage with) an HSA, is for employers to match employees’ contributions. We have specifically designed our benefits administration platforms to make bundling benefit accounts easy and cost-effective. You tell us your challenges and your goals, we give you the benefits solution. If you’re ready to uplevel your benefits package, reach out to Lively today. You have six months following the end of the benefit month to file claims to be reimbursed from your Pay Me Back account for expenses incurred prior to your termination.

But employers, for the most part, don’t even consider the commute as part of the work day. This is a big disconnect that can lead to resentment if workers are required to come back to the office and give up the time (about 50 minutes on average) and money (about $700 per month) they accrued by working from home. Both of these commuter benefits structures can help the company achieve its business and people goals. A Commuter Transit Account is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for public transit—including train, subway, bus, ferry, or vanpool—as part of your daily commute to and from work.

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The 66th Civil Engineering Division Commuter Management Program is set to launch a Clean Air Act survey, also known as the Annual Rideshare Survey, May 20. To June 7, aimed at gaining insights into the commuting patterns of employees here. If you use CommuterDirect for MARC/VRE or a WMATA allocation account for vanpools, MTA commuter buses, etc., you will need to update your CommuterDirect or WMATA allocation account with the new card number as well. This initiative is intended to save taxpayers’ money and was the winner of The President’s SAVE Award 2012. Any bit of savings helped when Eileen Damore was spending more than $400 a month to travel by train and subway from her Long Island home to her job at a printing company in Manhattan. Orders are accepted to effect transactions in securities only as an accommodation to HSA owners.

Requires businesses with 20 or more employees located within the city to provide said employees with a commuter benefits plan. San Francisco requires employers with a San Francisco location and 20 or more nationwide employees to offer said employees a commuter benefits plan. Businesses with 50 or more employees across the Bay Area are required to register for the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program. Seattle requires businesses with 20 or more employees to provide said employees with a pre-tax commuter benefits plan through which they can save and reimburse for qualified transit expenses.

These financial institutions are FDIC or NCUA insured and your HSA account may be eligible for pass through insurance. If this is your first order for a HealthEquity Commuter Card, the new card will be mailed to you prior to the first day of your first benefit month. You can pause, change, or cancel contributions to your Commuter Transit or Parking account at any time, although there are deadlines for changes and cancellations for specific benefit months.

The Lively Visa® Benefit Access Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Just log into your Commuter Transit or Commuter Parking Account and balances will show on the dashboard. If you already have a HealthEquity Commuter Card and you are re-enrolling to fund the card, you’ll go through the same enrollment process.