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Blumenauer Introduces a Tax Break for Bike-Share Commuters

8:23 AM PST on November 14, 2013

If you drive to work, the feds will subsidize that. But if a Citi Bike (New York), or a Divvy bike (Chicago), or CoGo (Columbus, Ohio) is your ride to work, no such luck. But that could change. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland reports that Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) has introduced legislation that would establish tax incentives for bike-share commuters:

It's a new goal for the city transportation commissioner turned Congressman, who spent years pushing for the IRS's first bike commuting benefit. The $20-a-month deduction finally passed as part of the 2008 bank bailout (despite Blumenauer's "no" vote on that package).

Neither the existing bike commute deduction nor Blumenauer's proposal would affect personal income taxes. Instead, they let employers (including governments and nonprofits) reimburse workers for bike expenses or bike sharing passes like any other fringe benefit, and treat that cost as a business expense.

Unfortunately, the bill is limited by a persistent oversight in tax policy that restricts its benefits to those who both live and work in areas that have bikesharing stations.

Blumenauer has fought multiple legislative battles in recent years to ensure that the tax code treats transit commuters and car commuters equally.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Carfree with Kids explains why, for her, biking is more of a practical way to get around than a passion. Vibrant Bay Area considers what makes a walkable hotel and how policies can support them. And Joe Urban describes a new Minneapolis transit-oriented development that, he says, could be a model for the nation.

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