GREENWICH, Conn. -- Calling it a victory for rail commuters, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal , D-Conn., hailed the restoration of a commuter tax credit during a visit to his hometown Greenwich Train Station on Wednesday afternoon.
"The bottom line is that anybody who rides this rail to work can receive reimbursement from their employer for up to $255 a month without any taxes," he said. "Reimbursement of commuting costs is ordinarily taxable, $255 per month will not be taxable."
The benefit expired at the end of 2013, costing some public transit users up to $1,500 in additional costs each year, Blumenthal said. The tax benefit encourages the use of mass transit as it cuts pollution and reduces road congestion.
Individuals who drive to work are eligible to set aside $255 per month before taxes to help defray the cost of parking, a valuable benefit that had been similarly extended to public transportation users until expiration of the credit at the end of 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, transit users were only able to set aside $130 per month, costing some transit commuters up to an additional $1,500 annually.
"Riders of this rail have suffered a double-whammy, which is higher fares and lower tax benefits," Blumenthal said. "Now at least the tax benefits will be equal to what road commuters use as they drive to work."
Blumenthal was joined by Connecticut Commuter Rail Council Vice Chairman John Hartwell, Greenwich Selectman John Toner and resident John Blankley at the announcement.
"It will be permanent and there will be parity between rail commuters and road users," Blumenthal said. "It is a tax benefit that everybody should be using."
Blumenthal said he helped to lead the Commuter Benefits Equity Act to extend the commuter mass transit benefit. The legislation was incorporated into the broader tax package adopted by Congress at the close of last year.
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