Mass-transit subsidy not in highway bill, but not dead yet

Friday - 6/29/2012, 3:35pm EDT

Mass-transit riders will not see an extension of a tax break as part of the transportation reauthorization bill Congress passed Friday.

The Senate included the tax break in its version of the highway bill passed in March. This provision would extend the monthly tax-free deduction of up to $230 a month for public transportation expenses traveling to work. That subsidy ended at the end of 2011 and the current deduction dropped to $125 a month.

But the subsidy is not dead yet.

"The mass transit parity provision is not in the conference report [for the transportation bill], but it is one of a variety of extenders that expired in 2011 or will expire in 2012. The Ways and Means Committee is in the process of a top-to-bottom review of these extenders," said a spokesman on the House Ways and Means Committee in an email to Federal News Radio.

The National Treasury Employees Union has been a vocal critic of letting the subsidy end. At the end of last year, NTEU President Colleen Kelly said reducing the benefit would affect tens of thousands of federal employees who rely on public transportation to get to work.

"Many of these employees, already subject to a two-year pay freeze, are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits would impose a severe financial burden on them," Kelley said in a December 2011 letter to Congress.

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