Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Chair Mark Epstein joined Senator Charles E. Schumer at the Mineola LIRR Station yesterday to push for the reinstatement of the expired mass transit tax benefit that can save LIRR commuters over $1,300 a year. The tax benefit would impact the more than 300,000 commuters who take LIRR, by increasing the pre-tax savings allowed for mass transit commutes from $130 per month to $245 per month. The benefit will give LIRR commuters the same tax break that those who commute by car currently receive for parking costs.
“The Commuter Pre Tax Benefit is a vital lifeline to commuters struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times and we are grateful for all of Senator Schumer’s efforts to restore and revive it,” said Mark Epstein at yesterday’s event.
Senator Schumer explained the need for the tax benefit saying, “as the price of commuting continues to climb, this commuter tax break has become increasingly vital for Long Island residents, who already experience a very high cost of living. Mass transit is the lifeblood of Long Island and the greater New York City area, and this federal transit benefit must rise to $250 per month, so that it matches that of driving commuters; it is one of the best ways to keep LIRR travel affordable. It makes absolutely no sense to provide those who drive to work with a tax break and make commuters who use mass transit pay more, and it must be a top priority before the end of this Congress to fix this inequality.”
Despite Schumer’s previous attempts, Congress failed to extend this benefit in 2014 after it expired in 2013. That is why, Schumer explained, he is pushing to put this tax benefit in place for 2015 and to have it cover 2014 costs retroactively.