Workplace Culture

Lawmakers Drop Provision to Boost Mass Transit Tax Break

By Jerry Geisel

Jul. 6, 2012

What was probably the last legislative vehicle during the current congressional session for federal lawmakers to retroactively restore a temporary boost in the maximum pretax monthly contribution employees can make to pay for mass transit expenses is now gone.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a highway funding bill with a provision under which employees would be able to reduce their taxable salaries by up to $240 a month to pay for mass transit expenses. The higher limit would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, and expire at the end of 2012. Since Jan. 1, the maximum contribution limit has been $125 a month.

A comparable provision was not included in a House-passed transportation bill. Congressional conferees, who met last month to iron out differences in the two bills, dropped without comment the Senate provision that would have boosted the mass transit contribution limit to $240.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the Senate provision would cost the federal government $139 million in lost tax revenue.

The final bill, which the White House said President Barack Obama will sign July 6, also will allow many employers to reduce required contributions to their defined benefit plans, but also substantially increases premiums they pay the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

In addition, the legislation, H.R. 4348, increases the base PBGC premium—currently $35 per plan participant—to $42 in 2013 and $49 in 2014.  

Jerry Geisel writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email


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Jerry Geisel writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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