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The Transit Benefit (sort of) Comes Back

Tax relief has come to tens of thousands of Marin's transit commuters, but some are still left out in the cold.

Last month, Governor Brown signed into law a $75 pre-tax transit benefit for employers to offer employees. It’s a partial fix to cuts to the federal transit benefit, which dropped from $230 to $125 this year.

I say partial because while the federal benefit applies to all companies, California restricts its new benefit to companies with 50 employees or more, excluding a hefty 40% of Bay Area workers. Another caveat is that employers may layer the two benefits rather than adding them together, meaning the first $75 would be exempt from state and federal taxes while the next $50 would only be exempt from federal taxes, enhancing the $125 benefit instead of creating a $200 benefit.

While $230 covered any bus transit commute starting in Marin and most starting in Sonoma, $200 isn’t enough to cover Novato transit commutes to San Francisco or many Sonoma commutes. As well, it still doesn’t make the transit benefit equal with the parking benefit; drivers, who get a $240 parking benefit, still have an advantage.

California still has a way to go to intelligently promote and fund transit, and the region continues to leave low-hanging fruit like congestion pricing on the tree, but it’s good to see the state step up where Congress has failed.

A version of this piece originally appeared in The Greater Marin. Follow David on Twitter @theGreaterMarin.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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