Tax-free Employer-provided Benefits for Public Transport: Background, History and 2008 Status

Tax-free Employer-provided Benefits for Public Transport: Background, History and 2008 Status


R L Oram, Accor Services, US


The presentation will discuss employer-based tax benefit programs ("transit benefits")and the significant success they have provided.


The presentation will provide information on the history and the use of employer-focused ?transit benefits? (payroll-based tax incentives) in the US since first being introduced in the 1970s, through changes made in 2008. In the US, transit benefits allow tax savings of over 40% for most employees, and 8% for employers. The underlying concepts and various applications of transit benefits will be presented, including programs implemented by local public transport agencies and those offered by private services. Information on the documented impacts of transit benefit programs on public transport ridership in various cities will be reviewed. Explanations of the larger-than-expected success of the initiatives will be provided, along with the central elements required for successful programs. The evolution of practices and current use of technology in transit benefit programs will also be discussed. Current influences on transit benefit practices will be noted, and new directions will be summarized. The value of transit-supportive tax policies as a means of drawing the business community into traffic reduction activities will be discussed. Status reports on current efforts to expand the legislation/regulations in the US, Canada and the UK will be provided. (The UK Program began Fall 2007, and Canada?s legislation is expected to be established in mid-2008.)

Background on Presenter: Richard Oram was the primary pioneer in the transit benefit field in the US, and has worked with the program in various capacities since the 1970s. He was the founder of Commuter Check Services Corp., the first national entity providing transit benefit services. Commuter Check Services Corp. was purchased by Accor Services (subsidiary of the Paris-based Accor Group) in 2006. He has also worked in Canada and the United Kingdom to implement similar programs. He is now semi-retired.


Association for European Transport