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Published November 22, 2016
Volume 24, Number 11


BEST WORKPLACES FOR COMMUTERS HELPS

COMPANIES ENHANCE EMPLOYEE TRANSIT BENEFITS




Unless you work from a home office, commuting is commonly a day-to-day reality for working adults. Fortunately, thanks to both Hacienda and organizations like Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC), there are a number of tools available to Hacienda employers to make commuting both easier and more affordable.
 
The latest of these is a downloadable 44-page booklet from BWC that details how employers can take advantage of federal guidelines that allow them to provide pre-tax benefits of up to $255 per month per employee for transit and commuter highway vehicle (e.g., vanpool) expenses and up to $255 per month for parking. This, combined with Hacienda’s award-winning transportation program, provides park businesses with the opportunity to tailor an exemplary employee transit program.
 
Hacienda’s transportation program, which is available at no cost to park tenants, offers benefits including free passes on the local bus service, WHEELS, to all park employees and residents, as well as a host of first-time rider benefits, ride matching services, and access to Alameda County’s Guaranteed Ride Home program.
 
Thanks to the park’s thorough transportation program, all Hacienda businesses can take part in Best Workplaces for Commuters. BWC is an innovative membership program that provides qualified employers with national recognition and an elite designation for offering outstanding commuter benefits, such as free or low cost bus passes and vanpool fares and strong telework programs. BWC assists participating employers by offering public recognition and promotion, technical assistance, training, Web-based tools, and forums for information exchange. Because Hacienda meets the National Standard of Excellence in commuter benefits — a standard created by the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — park businesses can get on the list of Best Workplaces for Commuters and receive high level programs and services.
 
BWC’s new publication details how companies can provide employees with the U.S. federal tax code (Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f) – Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits) allows employers to provide employees up to $255 per month for transit and commuter highway vehicle (e.g., vanpool) expenses and up to $255 per month for parking. There are even benefits for cyclists: Employers can reimburse employees up to $20 per month tax-free for eligible bicycle expenses as long as those employees are not receiving any other Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit. An employer can subsidize commuting expenses related to transit, vanpool, parking, and biking or can allow employees to set aside income on a pre-tax basis to cover transit, vanpool or parking costs. Employers and employees also can share the cost, with the employer providing a pre-determined subsidy and the employee electing a pre-tax deduction up to the monthly maximum.
 
Tax benefits abound for both participating companies and their employees. Since the value of the benefit paid to employees is considered to be a tax-free transportation fringe benefit and not wage or salary compensation, payroll taxes do not apply. Allowing employees to reserve income on a pre-tax basis also saves employers payroll taxes.  
 
For additional information about Hacienda’s transportation program, go to www.hacienda.org, select “Special Offers” under the “About” menu, and then “Commute.” Hacienda can also be reached at (925) 734-6500. Information on Best Workplaces for Commuters, as well as the organization’s various e-books, savings calculators, and other resources, is at www.bestworkplaces.org
 


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