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Thread: Senate Tax Reform Bill to Eliminate Bike Commuter Benefit

  1. #1
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    Default Senate Tax Reform Bill to Eliminate Bike Commuter Benefit

    E-mail from the League of American Bicyclists:

    Dear Bike Advocate:

    The Senate tax reform plan, released on Thursday, eliminates the bike commuter benefit while keeping commuter benefits for driving and riding transit!

    The Senate Finance committee plans to vote starting on Monday and an amendment is needed to reinstate the bike benefit. Your Senator is one of the Senators on the Finance Committee who can take action and reinstate the bike benefit and we need your help to reach out to them this weekend. We need to move fast- and your help is critical!
    Please act this weekend - Ask your Senator to reinstate the bike commuter benefit.
    Send a quick message to your senator now!

    The Senate should keep the bicycle commuter benefit because:

    If Congress is going to offer commuter benefits to some commuters, they should offer them to all commuters!
    Commuter benefits cost over $8.6 billion each year
    If every bike commuter in the United States used the bike commuter benefit it would cost less than 2.5% of that amount
    Eliminating the bike benefit alone does not significantly address revenue lost to commuter benefits
    The bike commuter benefit is a low cost way to promote healthier, livable communities.
    The average consumer spends over $4,500 each year on gas and other vehicle expenses
    The average cost of bike commuting is $350 per year. The bicycle commuter benefit covers up to $240 each year to defray costs of purchase, maintenance, and improvements for commuter bicycles.

    Please share this alert with people in your state!

    Enjoy the ride,
    Ken McLeod
    Policy Director
    League of American Bicyclists

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    Well, if getting rid of the bicycle commuting benefit causes people to become less healthy, they will deal with that by eliminating the deduction for medical expenses. So it's all good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    Well, if getting rid of the bicycle commuting benefit causes people to become less healthy, they will deal with that by eliminating the deduction for medical expenses. So it's all good.
    I did include in my feedback that the bicycle commuter benefit encouraged an activity that results in lower federal healthcare and road maintenance expenses.

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    DismalScientist is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    The tax reform bill also eliminates parking benefits. It's amazing how supposed bike advocates can be so easily swayed by eliminating very minor social engineering project. Bicycling commuting should not be subsidized independent of other commuting subsidies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DismalScientist View Post
    The tax reform bill also eliminates parking benefits. It's amazing how supposed bike advocates can be so easily swayed by eliminating very minor social engineering project. Bicycling commuting should not be subsidized independent of other commuting subsidies.
    I would argue that it should. We already subsidize driving, because we allow emissions that we then need to find a way to clean up. Road construction is also more necessary for cars than for bikes, because cars a) are bigger and take up more space, and b) are heavier and damage roads more. Driving instead of bicycling increases healthcare costs, of which the government pays a part. So if a minor subsidy gets more people out of cars, it is a net gain to the government, in a way that a parking subsidy (which encourages yet more use of cars) is not.

    Overall, I consider the bike commuting benefit one of the least objectionable parts of the bill. (Taxing people on discounts in their college tuition, and increasing taxes on those in long-term care, are obviously a lot more significant, for example.) However, equating parking benefits with bicycling benefits seems to me an unfair comparison.
    Last edited by cvcalhoun; 11-11-2017 at 03:50 PM.

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    What a pain in the proverbial. AU and NIH have implemented it and I had gotten consideration on the agenda of the next budget meeting of our HR Benefits people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    equating parking benefits with bicycling benefits seems to me an unfair comparison.
    Instead of freaking out about removing the modest bike reimbursement provision, you should celebrate the elimination of the parking benefit. See this: https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/09/1...omment-page-1/

    If parking benefits are provided, the other transit benefits have virtually no effect on commuting mode share. If you want to increase cycling's mode share, decrease roadway maintenance and medical costs, it's far more important to kill the parking subsidy than to preserve the tedious to use and seldom adopted bike expense subsidy.

    (I'd like to see analysis of the impact of human powered commuting on group medical costs. I expect that cycling to work frequently vs. driving might reduce group medical costs enough to justify the < $20 month subsidy even without the tax break - that the bike subsidy might be one of the most cost-effective wellness programs an employer could adopt.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    Instead of freaking out about removing the modest bike reimbursement provision, you should celebrate the elimination of the parking benefit.
    I'm hardly freaking out about the loss of the biking benefit. I've already pointed out that compared with the other horrors in the bill, it's trivial. All I said was that saying that of course the biking benefit should go if the parking benefit does makes no sense. The biking benefit, if effective, reduces driving. The parking benefit (whatever its other purposes, such as taking away one reason employers flee to the suburbs) potentially increases it.

    I don't have strong feelings about either benefit. I doubt the trivial biking benefit does much to encourage biking. I think the effects of the parking benefit are mixed -- potentially helping to retain jobs in the city, but also potentially increasing driving. But regardless of whether each of these changes is good or bad, there are far more important issues with this bill.



    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    I'm hardly freaking out about the loss of the biking benefit
    Very true. I'm sorry for my choice of words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvcalhoun View Post
    I doubt the trivial biking benefit does much to encourage biking.
    While the $20/month may not directly encourage biking, it may cause employers to engage on how to make their operations more bike friendly, which may directly encourage biking. By giving some visibility to bicyclists in an organization, we increase their voice.

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