What is the Bicycle Commuter Act and does UW provide the benefit?
The Bicycle Commuter Act was part of a larger Renewable Energy Tax Credit Initiatives legislation which was passed as part of the Financial Rescue Package in fall 2008. The law took effect January 1, 2009. The Bicycle Commuter Act, in one form or another, has been in front of Congress for seven years; it’s intention was to put cyclists on the same footing as people who get tax breaks for taking transit or driving (parking, actually) their cars to and from work.
The provision is intended to allow employers to provide up to $20 a month in tax incentives related to an employee's bike commuting to help defray the cost of items to include, but not limited to, bike parking facilities, shower facilities, and commuter supplies (like a commuter bicycle, bike lock, helmet, and maintenance). However, the passage of the provision doesn’t mean that you can start spending that bicycle tax benefit cash just yet.
How the program will work has not yet been hammered out. The IRS will need to establish guidance for interested employers and the state of Wisconsin may need to create policies or legislation to allow for the benefit. It is then up to each individual employer to decide whether or not they will provide this benefit as the program is optional.
UW Transportation Services is tracking progress on implementation strategies at the state and national level and will post information (on the web and in our quarterly Transportation Services e-newsletter) if and when the benefit becomes available to UW employees.
For more information on the Bicycle Commuter Act and timely updates on national implementation strategies, visit www.bikeleague.org or http://www.bikeleague.org/news/100708faq.php
Didn’t know you could get a tax break for taking transit or parking? For more information on existing Commuter Benefits, visit the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Fund’s Commuter Benefits website.
Thank you for your interest in alternative transportation!