Has SF Opened the Door for Tax-Free Transit Benefits?

San Francisco recently became the first city to mandate tax-free transportation benefit plans for companies with more than 20 workers. Currently unbeknown to many employers, the move may cause other cities to catch on.

"Only 53 percent of employers are aware of tax-free commuter benefits, and of those, only 46 percent offer the benefit to employees, according to one survey.

Another national survey found that only 17 percent of companies with standard benefits programs provided the transit option.

Many companies believe they are too small to offer the program or don't feel they have the resources or expertise to deal with the paperwork, experts say.

The RTA says the transit benefit program has grown steadily, and the agency anticipates a surge in interest, said Phillip Shayne, the RTA's director of regional services.

Fall is the traditional time for benefit program open enrollments, and fear of another round of gas price increases probably will prompt more employees to take advantage of the transit option, Shayne said."

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