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Creative companies add pre-tax commuter perks to employee benefits packages

In tough economic times, many companies slash employee benefits. And then there are those that just get creative. One such program offers commuter benefits to employee packages that can help the bottom line while also helping the environment. 

A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that 60 percent of company's polled have already cut back on benefit packages. Commuter Check, a Web site dedicated to helping organizations learn how to leverage tax incentives by reducing employee commuting expenses, recently published a white paper detailing the cost-savings to a company's bottom line by offering to pay an employee's commuting costs.

“There are a number of obvious benefits to transit ridership,” says Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), who has worked to promote such benefits for years, “including a reduction in energy consumption, improved air quality, and reduced congestion. But the one issue that I think is most important to employees and employers is the fact that both employers and employees can save hundreds of dollars a year by simply doing the right thing. It’s a no brainer.”
 

Commuter Check White Paper Findings: 

  • An Employee Omnibus Survey by SHRM (January, 2009) shows that 39% of employees are concerned about the rising cost of commuting and would like benefits that curb those expenses.
  • Commuter benefits save the average commuter almost 40% off the cost of a transit ticket.  In Detroit, that equates to a commuter cost of $12 per week for a two-way bus ticket.
  • For employees not able to ride mass transit, pre-tax benefits also include commute-related parking expenses, vanpools and bicycle allowances.
  • Pre-tax benefits can be used for commute-related parking, and are available as parking vouchers, debit cards or direct payments to vendors for employees who do not have access to bus or train routes.
  • Employers can save 10% or more on payroll taxes since dollars going to commuting costs under the program are deducted from taxable income for both employee and employer. 
  • Changing commuter behavior can have dramatic results; one person switching to public transit can reduce daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.
  • The biggest benefits for commuters are in stress reduction, less traffic congestion, improving our carbon footprint and signficant savings in tax dollars for employees and employers.

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