With a little help from Congress, commuters relying on mass transit to get to work could lose a significant chunk of change next year.
Starting on Jan. 1, the federal commuter tax benefit will drop from $245 to $130 per month. According to a Friday Washington Post report, that could cost some regular users almost $1,000 in 2014.
While mass transit riders are facing reduced benefits, the same can't be said for drivers. The Post noted that commuter parking tax benefits will rise from $245 to $250 per month.
“This is the biggest disparity between the two components of the commuter benefit that we have ever seen,” Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, told the paper. “For those who rely on mass transit, where you also have increasing costs, this is a double hit.”
On Thursday, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News noted that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a final attempt to salvage the transit tax credit this month. But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) led the charge against Schumer's efforts, calling for a bigger package when Congress returns from its recess.
Brittany Armiento, 23, of New Rochelle, N.Y., told the Journal News that the benefits for both modes of transit should match up.
“I think it should be even, if people are going to be driving or taking the train,” she said.
The commuter tax credit has been victimized by congressional brinksmanship before. As Forbes noted in January, last year's fiscal cliff deal was needed to salvage the 2013 break, with an extension of the pre-tax benefits tucked inside the 157-page deal.