The next generation of tax-favored commuter benefits: bicycle commuting

Just this summer I wrote What's old is new again: commuter benefits under Section 132. The post was about employers rediscovering (or discovering in some cases) that they could assist employees paying for commuter transit and parking expenses on a pre-tax basis - and the tax savings that employers themselves could realize. Interest sparked, of course, by higher gas prices.

Now here comes the next generation of tax-favored commuter benefits. Buried in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, a/k/a the "Bailout Bill", is a provision that allows employers to provide employees with a new tax-favored bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit.

Section 132(f) of the Internal Revenue Code was amended to allow employees starting January 1, 2009 to receive up to $20 per month tax-free for the reasonable expenses they incur during a calendar year for:

  • The purchase of a bicycle and for bicycle improvements
  • Repair and storage if the bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment

The bicycle commuter benefit is not available if the employee receives other Section 132 commuter benefits, i.e., transit or parking reimbursement.

Picture credit: Bike To Work, The Best Part of Your Day poster by daisy art studio of Seattle, Washington.

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