New York City

NYC commuters get new tax break

Transit Riders Could Save Up to $1,000/Year

January 4, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez of the 10th District holds an MTA MetroCard while describing new benefits under the law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2016. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer confronted startled early morning straphangers at the Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center MTA station as they led a posse of commissioners and elected officials into the station on Monday to promote revisions in New York City’s Commuter Benefits Law.

Changes in the existing law, first signed by de Blasio on Oct. 20, 2014, include a requirement that all for and not-for-profit companies with 20 or more non-union full-time employees offer commuter benefits. Under the program, employees contribute pre-tax income to purchase monthly transit passes. Previously, the amount had been capped at $130 per month, but with Congress permanently increasing the Mass Transit Commuter Benefit, workers can now put in as much as $255 per month, an increase city officials had long lobbied for.

The new law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, also makes participation by eligible employers mandatory. “Now, before, a lot of companies didn’t offer it,” de Blasio told WCBS 880 radio in an interview shortly afterwards.  “It will be mandatory for any company twenty employees or more.”

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During a press conference held inside Barclays Center after meeting with commuters, the mayor was fulsome in his praise of Schumer, crediting him with pushing the revised limits through Congress. “And I have to say, Senator Chuck Schumer did a great job, because we needed some help on the federal side, and he helped achieve it,” the mayor told WCBS radio.

Officials emphasized that the new law would potentially save the average New York City commuter $1000 per year. City council member for the 4th Distrcit in Manhattan, Dan Garodnick, who authored the bill, took the podium to point out that the law also benefits employers whose payroll taxes will decline in direct proportion to the amount of money diverted to workers’ transit benefits.

When asked whether or not employers would find the additional documentation burdensome, mayor de Blasio pointed out that only a single form would be required for each enrolled worker.

Today’s press conference marks the apex of a months-long advertising campaign run by the Department of Consumer Affairs entitled “There’s A Better Way To Work” with posters and signs throughout MTA, LIRR, MetroNorth, New Jersey Transit and Staten Island Ferry structures. Officials expressed the hope that in addition to providing economic relief, the new law will encourage more commuters to leave their private vehicles at home and use public transit, easing overstrained roads and highways.

Workers can report non-compliance to the Department of Consumer Affairs by calling 311 or e-mailing [email protected].

 


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