Today’s news:

Schumer adds tax break for transit riders to bill

A straphanger buys a MetroCard. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
TimesLedger Newspapers

The tax break for New York City’s beleaguered straphangers that once seemed as gone as the subway token may be back and $10 richer.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has campaigned tirelessly for the tax benefit, which offered transit riders $230 per month in tax-exempt income until it expired Dec. 31

Schumer said he has inserted a condition in a federal highways bill restoring the transit riders full benefit — it had been slashed to $125 — adding $10 and making it effective immediately.

Under the program, employers can deduct funds before taxes from employees’ paychecks for savings of a third or more in riders’ transportation costs. At this time, half a million commuters in the metropolitan area take advantage of the benefit and 2.7 million nationwide.

“Many people thought that the benefit of such help to New Yorkers was dead,” Schumer said. “It is not. “If the [U.S.] House [of Representatives] acts the way the Senate will, we can restore it.”

It was not renewed in its original form when it expired Dec. 31, and Schumer said the reason was several “Tea Party candidates from rural areas who don’t have mass transit” were to blame.

If passed, the benefits to public transit riders would be $240 a month, equal to the IRS tax benefit that covers parking.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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