Commuter Benefits

What are Commuter Benefits?

Commuter Benefits are employee-funded accounts for either parking or transit, regulated by the IRS, that allow participants to set aside pre-tax funds to save on work-related commuting expenses. The IRS sets an annual monthly maximum, which is $270 per month for transit and $270 per month for parking (2021). Elections can be changed monthly, depending on personal use of the benefit. MyChoice Accounts provides a convenient debit card to pay for work-related commuting expenses.

Why Commuter Benefits?

The key benefit is tax savings. An average daily commuter in New York City can save up to $700 per year by electing commuter benefits*. If you have the option to use mass transit, you can save yourself time, money, hassle and personal vehicle expenses by commuting to work with others. In addition to all that savings, you’re also saving the earth by reducing your greenhouse gas emissions with regular use of mass transit.

Compare your potential tax savings

Joan commutes to work each day using a metro/transit system and pays to park at the transit station. Here’s how Joan can save by electing commuter benefits:

Without Commuter Benefits

With Commuter Benefits

Gross Annual Pay

$60,000

Gross Annual Pay

$60,000

Estimated Tax Rate (22%)

-$13,200

Maximum annual commuter account contributions

($270/month transit + $270/month parking x 12 months)=
-$6,480

Net annual pay

=$46,800

Adjusted gross annual pay

=$53,520

Estimated annual commuting expenses

-$6,480

Estimated Tax Rate (22%)

-$11,774

Final annual pay

=$40,320

Final annual pay

=$41,745

You could take home this much more annually: $1,425

*Estimated employee savings are for informational purposes only and based on the 2020 tax year. Individual savings may vary based upon income, individual tax rates, state of residence and other factors. Please consult your tax advisor.

Using your transit benefits

When you sign up for the program, your employer will deduct the amount you choose from your pay on a pre-tax basis. You will receive your MyChoice Accounts Visa® card in the mail that can be used to purchase transit passes from your transit authority directly or pay for your vanpool, UberPool or Lyft Shared transportation costs.

The transit card has tight IRS regulations. The card can be set up as the funding source for most transit agency ‘smart cards’. This allows your transit pass to be automatically funded each month using the funds placed on your card. You may also purchase transit passes from credit card terminals that ONLY sell transit passes. 

For example, if you are at the transit agency and purchase a pass at a kiosk, the card will work. If you are at the transit agency and go to a window where they sell items in addition to transit passes, the card will decline. No matter the type of transportation, a manual claim is not possible.

Using your parking benefits

When you sign up for the program, your employer will deduct the amount you choose from your pay on a pre-tax basis. You will receive a MyChoice Accounts Visa® card in the mail that can be used to purchase parking from designated kiosks.

The parking card will only work at parking locations that have a credit card machine that has “Parking” for the Merchant Category Code (MCC).  If for some reason you can’t use the card to pay for parking, you may file a claim through your online benefits portal or the MyChoice Mobile App to be reimbursed.

Commuter FAQ

How much can I contribute?
What expenses are eligible to use commuter funds?
How do I spend commuter funds?
Where can I use my debit card for transit?
Can I transfer money from my transit account to my parking account or vice versa?
What are some examples of ineligible commuter expenses?
Can I use commuter benefits to pay for gas or mileage expenses?
What happens to my unused funds at the end of the year?
How do I find my balance?
Can I change my contribution amount mid-year?
How do I contribute to my Commuter Benefits?
May I use my Commuter Benefits for my spouse’s or dependent’s commuting expenses?

CLAIMS FAQ

If I pay out of pocket for my parking expenses, can I get reimbursed?
If I pay out of pocket for my transit expenses, can I get reimbursed?

Transit Instructions by City

You have a few options to purchase transit fare across the U.S. You may use your MyChoice Accounts debit card to either purchase individual fare at transit kiosks and agencies that sell ONLY fare/tickets or use your card to purchase reloadable ‘smart cards’ through the transit authority online system, mobile app or kiosks.

Auto-loading instructions and/or fare purchase information for transit authorities can be found at these links:

New York: MTA Easy Pay

New Jersey: NJ Transit or PATCO Freedom Card

Washington, DC: WMATA General Fare, WMATA SmarTrip® Card

Chicago: Ventra or South Shore Line

Boston: MBTA General Fare, MBTA Charlie Card

San Francisco: Clipper, Apply Transit Benefits

Los Angeles: Metrolink General Fare or TAP

Atlanta: MARTA Breeze Card

Seattle: SoundTransit ORCA Card

San Diego: MTS Compass Card

Houston: Metro Q Card

Minneapolis: MetroTransit Go-To Card

 

Employers and Brokers

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