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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 12/08/2011

Will commuter benefits for federal workers expire?


Commuters riding D.C.-area Metro trains might have to shell out more next year. (Bonnie Jo Mount)
A leading federal worker union is warning members that they may need to shell out more to ride the subway or bus to work next year if Congress lets a commuter tax credit expire.

Eye Opener

With Congress and the White House bickering over a potential extension of a payroll tax credit, other commuter, employer and renewable energy tax breaks are also set to expire at year’s end.

Failure to pass the commuter credit means the current monthly mass transit benefit of $230 would drop back to $125 per month. Congress last December passed legislation extending the current levels for another year.

“The mass transit commuter benefit provides much needed relief in the form of reduced commuting costs for many working people, including tens of thousands of federal employees that rely on public transportation to get to and from work,” National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said late Wednesday. “Many of these employees, already subject to a two-year pay freeze, are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits would impose a severe financial burden on them.”

Kelley said that extending the tax credit at current levels also would help encourage workers to use public transportation and help reduce traffic on the roads.

Bills to extend the commuter tax benefit have been introduced in the House and Senate, but it is unclear if or how they might eventually pass and aides didn’t immediately return requests for comment Wednesday night.

With the clock ticking towards the end of the year, Congress is focused on passing an appropriations omnibus that funds most, if not all government operations, an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance and a bill addressing the Medicare “doc-fix.” Though lawmakers are hoping to eventually pass a legislative package extending several smaller tax credits, reform of the alternative minimum tax and other related issues, it’s unlikely to come up until after the holidays, according to congressional aides.

Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Obama warns Congress not to attach payroll tax cut approval to Keystone Pipeline

FAQ: The ‘doc-fix’

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By  |  06:00 AM ET, 12/08/2011

Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues, Congress

 
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