LANCASTER – Antelope Valley residents who use public transportation to commute to work will get a bigger tax break this year, thanks to a new law that went into effect on January 1.
For commuter passengers of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), the change in law could translate into approximately $3,000 in annual non-taxable earnings or as an annual fringe benefit that could be offered by employers. Until recently, the maximum benefit for commuters was nearly half that amount.
The tax extenders agreement amends current law to allow parity between public transportation
passengers and those who receive the parking benefit for driving their cars to work. Last year, drivers were entitled to $250 per month in tax free earnings to pay for parking fees, while public transit commuters were allocated $130 per month. The tax extender agreement retroactively increases the benefit for public transit passengers to $250 per month in Fiscal Year 2015 so that both drivers and public transportation users are treated equally.
The tax credit increased to $255 per month for both groups in FY 2016 due to a cost of living adjustment.
“It seems only logical that we would give our public transportation passengers an equal share rather than incentivize people to drive their cars to work,” stated AVTA Chairman Marvin Crist. “I’m glad this issue has finally been resolved and our commuters can count on a larger tax break in the months and years ahead.”
The tax extenders agreement is part of a larger appropriations bill to fund all federal departments, agencies, and programs through the balance of FY 2016.
“This is terrific news for our commuting population,” stated Executive Director Len Engel. “Transit passengers help reduce traffic congestion on our freeways, which is why tax laws should encourage public transportation.”
About 1,000 valley residents rely on AVTA’s commuter service to reach the Los Angeles basin during the weekday commute. With four routes daily, AVTA serves downtown Los Angeles,
the San Fernando Valley, Century City and West Los Angeles, as well as the Santa Clarita Valley.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]