Currently, a Stimulus Act provision allows for commuters to use $230 of pre-tax wages to pay for public transit. But come December, that number will drop to $120, something Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to keep from happening. Schumer wants to make the provision permanent, arguing that the December change would take away $150 million in savings each year from commuters. He told reporters yesterday, "In every corner of every borough, families are struggling to make ends meet. It's more important than ever that the federal government not throw salt in their wounds."
The tax break currently applies to New Yorkers who use more than $1,000 per year each. With the expected fare hikes, anyone who buys a 30-day unlimited (or "limited unlimited") card could reach that amount in about 10 months. According to the Daily News, employers have saved an estimated $35 million in payroll taxes using benefits like TransitChek. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said preserving the tax break would be "a rare win-win situation." And when was the last time that happened with the MTA?