Federal Increase in Pre-Tax Benefits Allotted for Employer Transit Expenses as Part of Montgomery County’s ‘Fareshare’ Program

by Patrick Herron

Per MCDOT: The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) “FareShare” Program announces that employees have more reason than ever to use public transportation to get to work. The Internal Revenue Service has increased the pre-tax limit for employer-provided commuting benefits to $300 per month, from $280 last year, including transit passes and vanpool fares for 2023.

With the recent increase in the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-free limit, commuters working in Montgomery County can receive the reimbursement by asking their employers to set up a commuting benefits program. MCDOT’s “FareShare” program will reimburse employers for all but $25 per month of their employees’ costs for commuting, up to $300 per month. The money is tax-free to both the employee and the employer.

The program covers expenses incurred by commuters using Ride On bus, Metrobus, Metrorail or MARC train. It also covers expenses for vanpools, as long as the employee commutes to and from a workplace within Montgomery County. A separate provision also allows for remote parking, such as Metro parking costs, as a separate covered benefit, up to an additional $300 a month.

“This is a great incentive that I hope all businesses in Montgomery County will take advantage of,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “This employee benefit lowers the cost of commuting to work and takes cars off the road, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas levels.”

Businesses looking to implement or expand a transportation benefit program must commit to covering the first $25 per month of travel costs for participating employees. The County will cover commuting costs over the initial $25, up to $300 a month. The full subsidy could be as high as $3,600 per year, per employee. There is a maximum payout of $40,000 to each business per year.

The FareShare reimbursements offset the cost to employers who pay for their employees’ commutes. Employers can also offer a pre-tax payroll deduction benefit at no cost to the employer—or a combination of both.

MCDOT Commuter Services staff offers free assistance in setting up a commuter benefits program that is tailored to each business and their employees’ needs.

Participating employers also are eligible for a State tax credit of 50 percent of their $25 contribution per enrolled employee each month, reducing their State tax payment. This credit is available to for-profit and nonprofit organizations. For more information on tax credits, visit Commuter Choice Maryland here.

Depending on how many employees participate in the commuting benefits program, and the amount they incur for their commute, an employer participating in FareShare and the State tax credit program may be able to save thousands of dollars per year in combined payroll and State income tax payments.

“It is good to see more resources being put forward to encourage the use of public transit,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “This increase has the potential to assist a lot of people who have now returned to the office in some capacity. This is a good opportunity for employers to provide an impactful benefit to their employees.”

Transportation benefits help raise employee satisfaction, help businesses recruit and retain employees and help present the organization as an employer that cares about its workforce and the environment.

In addition, each year MCDOT’s Commuter Services Office partners with County businesses to help them apply for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Employer Recognition Awards. Now is the time to work with Commuter Services to bring recognition to a company for its commuter benefit programs through these awards.

Last year, Montgomery County Commuter Services partner Ellumen, Inc. received the 2022 Employer Recognition Award for the marketing of its commuter benefits program. The small, privately held healthcare IT company based in Silver Spring reduced employee vehicle miles traveled by 512,080 miles and saved an estimated annual 23,276 gallons of gas through marketing efforts geared toward employees.

For more information and to request free support to implement or increase a transportation reimbursement program, visit the MCDOT website here.

For information on MCDOT programs and services visit montgomerycountymd.gov/mcdot, follow @MCDOTNow on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram and subscribe to MCDOT’s “Go Montgomery!” newsletter.

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