Soaring gas prices are straining family budgets and prompting many workers in the United States to reconsider how they conduct their daily commute, which averages more than 100 hours per year. More workers are eschewing their solo drive and are instead carpooling or traveling to and from work on buses, trains and subways.
Fortunately, there is a cost-effective way for organizations to help ease the out-of-pocket expense for their commuting workforce: Set up commuter benefit plans that qualify for federal tax breaks.
Since the beginning of 2005, benefit providers have seen a modest increase in demand for commuter benefits, but penetration of commuter benefit plans is still relatively low.
According to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resources Management, Alexandria, Va., only 14% of reporting companies offered a qualified transportation expense plan or transit subsidy. But my company has found that nearly 80% of current commuter benefit plan enrollees say the benefits are “very important.”
Commuter benefits frequently are used in major cities by commuters who take mass transit or use vanpools.