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house Bill H.R. 1507

Should Bike Commuters Receive a Pre-Tax Benefit Like Car and Public Transit Commuters?

Argument in favor

Bike commuters are currently the only group of American workers who aren’t entitled to a tax break for the cost of their commute to work. This bill would rectify this by giving bike commuters a pre-tax benefit similar to those for car and public transit commuters.

Jerrey's Opinion
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05/17/2019
Though an excellent concept, the bill must be amended to include verification provisions that bicycle commuting is actually occurring. How will this be handled in locales where winter weather exists, etc. Close the loopholes for non-use and this bill could be beneficial.
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jimK's Opinion
···
05/17/2019
YES, I favor this legislation. I don't think this bill would have much impact on getting more people to bike to work, nor have much of an impact on taxes overall. However, I strongly believe that any legislation that incentivizes public awareness of better ecological practices is a step in right direction. It helps gain public support to address climate change- which is a really big deal.
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GavinMF's Opinion
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05/17/2019
Climate change is the arguably the greatest and most pressing issue of our time. Rewarding people for choosing the better and cleaner option of biking is a big step in the right direction in the fight against the changing climate.
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Argument opposed

This bill likely won’t have a significant positive impact on bike commuting rates, as the inherent barriers to bike commuting — lack of protected bike lanes, long distances from homes to offices, and real or perceived lack of safety — are unchanged by this bill.

Jeff's Opinion
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05/17/2019
Not until there are more defined rules on how drivers and bikers should share a road. I seem to constantly encounter the people that dare me to hit them.
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Gypsy's Opinion
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05/17/2019
If you need to get a kick back for doing the right thing then you are a phony.
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Kathy's Opinion
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05/17/2019
This is a ploy to support the Green New Deal notion of taking automobiles off the streets...except for the ones they deem worthy of having an automobile. Don’t fall for this BS.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedMarch 5th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1507?

This bill — the Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019 — would reinstate the bicycle commuter tax benefit (which was eliminated in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) to incentivize bike commuting and help cover cyclists’ commuting costs. It’d also change the benefit’s structure to make it a pre-tax benefit, like parking and transit, rather than a reimbursement; allow employees to receive a bicycle benefit of up to 20% of the parking benefit; permit the bicycle benefit to be used with the parking and transit benefit; and clarify that bikeshare and electric bikeshares are eligible for this benefit.

Since drivers and public transit riders can deduct up to $265 per month of their commuting and parking costs, this bill’s bicycle benefit (at 20% of that rate) would come out to around $53 per month.

Impact

Bicycle commuters; bikeshare commuters; ebike commuters; ebikeshare commuters; and the bicycle commuter tax.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1507

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced this bill to reinstate and modify the bicycle commuter tax benefit to incentivize bike commuting:

“Communities of all sizes are demanding better transportation options to get to work and it is past time that the federal government provides the flexibility and incentives needed to encourage bike community. We must offer more transportation choices that are better for the environment, cheaper for families and incentivize burning calories, not carbon.”

In floor remarks introducing this bill in the current Congress, Rep. Blumenauer added that the bicycle is the “most efficient form of urban transportation ever devised”:

“The bicycle is the most efficient form of urban transportation ever devised. Cycling reduces carbon emissions, provides enormous physical and mental health benefits, and is one of the most cost-effective modes of transportation available. Communities across the country have realized these benefits and substantially invested in building better bike networks and improving facilities for biking to work. Across America, more than 100 communities of all sizes have installed or permitted bikeshare systems, supporting a nationwide network of nearly 5,000 stations, more than 100,000 bikes, and more than 120 million trips since 2010. These investments are one of the reasons that rates of biking to work have nearly doubled since 2000 while driving and public transportation rates have increased by 16 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Despite these impressive developments, there is currently no commuter tax benefit for biking to work. Public Law 115-97 suspended the bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit through 2025, taking away a valuable financial incentive for people who choose to bike to work. The Bicycle Commuter Act reverses the benefit's suspension, changes the structure of the benefit to be more flexible to, and adds bikeshare as eligible for the benefit. Employees don't commute the same way every day and our commuter tax benefits should reflect that. The Bicycle Commuter Act provides the flexibility that people need while also incentivizing a clean and healthy mode of transportation: the bicycle."

PeopleForBikes supports this bill. Its Vice President of Business Network and Government Relations, Jenn Dice, says:

“During the last decade, bicycle commuting has grown by more than 50 percent nationwide, leading to reduced traffic congestion and the promotion of good health. The reinstated bicycle commuter benefit will encourage additional Americans to commute by bike, and further reduce traffic congestion throughout the country.”

Eillie Anzilotti, an assistant editor for Fast Company’s Ideas section, argues that while it’s a nice gesture, this bill won’t significantly impact bike commuting rates:

“Creating a financial incentive for people to bike to work won’t be enough to counteract the forces that keep people from doing it in the first place. For the U.S. to truly become a bike-friendly country, it needs to invest much more heavily in infrastructure like protected bike lanes and cycling trails, and attempt to rein in reckless driver behavior like speeding, which endangers cyclists and pedestrians. But recognizing people who do bike to work with a little extra cash can’t hurt.”

This bill has 15 bipartisan cosponsors, including 14 Democrats and one Republican, in the 116th Congress. The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), League of American Bicyclists, PeopleForBikes, the Coalition for Smarter Transportation, and the New York City Department of Transportation support this bill.


Of NoteIn 2009, Congress established a $20 per month reimbursement for bike commuters in an effort to give cyclists the same types of tax benefits that drivers and transit riders access through their employers. However, in 2017, a provision in the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) suspended that benefit through 2025. After the TCJA’s bike policy was revealed, HuffPost reporters Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson speculated that the move was meant to punish Democratic voters:

“[E]limination of the bike benefit will raise an estimated $5 million a year for the federal government ― barely a rounding error among the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. Since the provision barely affects revenue, the cycling advocates HuffPost interviewed sensed a political motivation at play. After all, even though people all over the country bike to work, the cyclists are more likely to live in or near big cities than in rural areas. Like the highly controversial elimination of the state and local tax deduction, the death of the bike benefit may have been a way to stick it to liberals who live on the coasts, shop at Whole Foods and vote for Democrats. But nobody seems to know for sure.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / stockstudioX)

AKA

Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify employer-provided fringe benefits for bicycle commuting.

    Though an excellent concept, the bill must be amended to include verification provisions that bicycle commuting is actually occurring. How will this be handled in locales where winter weather exists, etc. Close the loopholes for non-use and this bill could be beneficial.
    Like (57)
    Follow
    Share
    Not until there are more defined rules on how drivers and bikers should share a road. I seem to constantly encounter the people that dare me to hit them.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    YES, I favor this legislation. I don't think this bill would have much impact on getting more people to bike to work, nor have much of an impact on taxes overall. However, I strongly believe that any legislation that incentivizes public awareness of better ecological practices is a step in right direction. It helps gain public support to address climate change- which is a really big deal.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    Climate change is the arguably the greatest and most pressing issue of our time. Rewarding people for choosing the better and cleaner option of biking is a big step in the right direction in the fight against the changing climate.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    Bicycling is healthy, efficient, inexpensive, sustainable, and (especially in the city congestion) often FASTER. Support.
    Like (18)
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    If you need to get a kick back for doing the right thing then you are a phony.
    Like (16)
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    No. Taxation is theft.
    Like (15)
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    ABSOLUTELY YES!
    Like (13)
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    This is a ploy to support the Green New Deal notion of taking automobiles off the streets...except for the ones they deem worthy of having an automobile. Don’t fall for this BS.
    Like (11)
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    Heck yeah, they are leading the way to cleaner air for everyone!
    Like (9)
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    Encouraging bicycles for commute is a good idea.
    Like (8)
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    Why not?
    Like (8)
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    ABSOLUTELY. Yes.
    Like (7)
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    The only legitimate purpose of taxation is to generate the revenue necessary to fund critical government operations—not for social engineering. The more closely the tax is tied to the specific operation, the better. For example, if you rely on your bicycle for commuting, you automatically receive the benefit of reduced or eliminated taxation on things like gas, vehicle maintenance, registration, vehicle purchases, etc. We should not have a special tax break—especially at the federal level—for local commuting habits.
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    Cycling should be encouraged, not only for the environmental aspect, but for the health aspect. We need to ensure that there is also infrastructure and education to help protect cyclists from vehicles. Cyclists have just as much of a right to the road as any other vehicle, and must also follow the rules of the road just as any other vehicle (certain local laws may differ depending on tollway and if there is a cycling lane or path available). Most people are uninformed and uneducated about how roads are funded. They are funded from the general tax base and cyclists, especially those that do it for a hobby, tend to pay plenty of taxes. It IS NOT from licensing, car tags or gasoline like many of the comments in this thread. Many cyclists roll stop signs or red lights because it’s safe or conserves momentum - some local or state laws allow this as well. Riders that take their lane do so to prevent cars from trying to pass them in unsafe conditions (construction, hill, blind corner, etc.). There are cyclists that ride dangerously or unlawfully just like there are drivers that do the same. The main difference is that a cyclist is unlikely to cause harm to a vehicle from a bad decision whereas a vehicle can most definitely cause harm to many things.
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    Such a great way to commute. We need more Bike Lanes in our towns and cities
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    No, that opens the door to too many areas that are of higher priorities. First we need to make the tax laws fair and instead of most of the benefits going to the 1% and large corporations, we need to take care of the 99%. So revising the tax laws is the first step.
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    Benefits are good, especially for helping the environment.
    Like (4)
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    Biking is cool. We support bike lanes, bike paths and bikes as exercise.
    Like (4)
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    At the expense of those that don’t ride?
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