22 Apr THE FINAL WORD ON EMPLOYEE TRANSPORTATION BENEFIT
Transportation (Commuting) Benefits
This section speaks about exemption rules that involve benefits you offer to your employees for their personal transportation, such as commuting to and from work. These rules apply to the following transportation benefits.
• De minimis transportation benefits.
• Qualified transportation benefits.
Special rules that apply to demonstrator cars and qualified nonpersonal use vehicles are discussed under Working Condition Benefits, later in this section.
De Minimis Transportation Benefits
You can leave out the value of any de minimis transportation benefit you give to an employee from the employee’s wages. A de minimis transportation benefit is any local transportation benefit you give to an employee if it has so little value (taking into account how frequently you provide transportation to your employees) that accounting for it would be administratively impracticable or unreasonable. It applies to occasional transportation fare you give an employee because the employee is working overtime if the benefit is reasonable and is not based on hours worked.
Employee. For this exclusion, treat any individual of a de minimis transportation benefit as an employee.
Qualified Transportation Benefits
This exclusion applies to the following benefits.
• A ride in a commuter highway vehicle between the employee’s home and work place.
• A transit pass.
• Qualified parking.
• Qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.
The exclusion applies whether you provide a single or a combination of these benefits to your employees. Qualified transportation benefits can be provided directly by you or through a bonafide reimbursement arrangement. However, cash reimbursements for transit passes qualify only if a voucher or a similar item that the employee can exchange only for a transit pass is not readily available for direct distribution by you to your employee. A voucher is readily available for direct distribution only if an employee can obtain it from a voucher provider that does not impose fare media charges or other restrictions that effectively prevent the employer from obtaining vouchers. See Regulations section 1.132-9(b)(Q&A 16– 19) to learn more.
Generally, you can exclude qualified transportation fringe benefits from an employee’s wages even if you provide them in place of pay. However, qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements cannot be excluded if the reimbursements are provided in place of pay. For information about offering qualified transportation fringe benefits under a compensation reduction agreement, see Regulations section 1.132-9(b)(Q&A 11– 15).
Commuter highway vehicle. A commuter highway vehicle is any highway vehicle that seats at least 6 adults (not including the driver). In addition, you must reasonably expect that at least 80% of the vehicle mileage will be for transporting employees between their homes and work place with employees occupying at least one-half the vehicle’s seats (not including the driver’s).
Transit pass. A transit pass is any pass, token, fare card, voucher, or similar item entitling a person to ride, at no cost or at a reduced rate, on one of the following.
• On mass transit.
• In a vehicle that seats at least 6 adults (not including the driver) if a person in the business of transporting persons for pay or hire operates it.
Mass transit may be publicly or privately operated and includes ferry, rail, or bus. For guidance on the use of smart cards and debit cards to provide qualified transportation fringes, see Revenue Ruling 2006-57, 2006-47 I.R.B. 911, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2006-47_IRB/ar05.html and Notice 2010-94, 2010-52 I.R.B. 927, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2010-52_IRB/ar18.html.
Qualified parking is the parking you provide to your employees on or near your business premises. It provides parking on or near the location from which your employees commute to work using mass transit, commuter highway vehicles, or carpools.
Qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement. For any calendar year, the exclusion for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement includes any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of the calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during the calendar year.
Reasonable expenses consist of:
• The purchase of a bicycle, and
• Bicycle improvements, repair, and storage.
These are considered reasonable expenses so long as the bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.
Employee. For this exception, treat the following individuals as employees.
• A current employee.
• If the services are performed under your primary direction or control, or
• A leased employee who has provided services to you on a substantially full-time basis for at least a year.
A self-employed individual is not an employee for certified transportation benefit purposes.
Do not treat a 2% shareholder of an S corporation as an employee of the corporation for this purpose. Treat a 2% shareholder as you would a partner in a partnership for fringe benefit purposes, but do not treat the benefit as a reduction in distributions to the 2% shareholder.
Relation to other fringe benefits. You cannot get rid of a qualified transportation benefit you provide to an employee under the de minimis or working condition benefit rules. However, if you provide a local transportation benefit other than by transit pass or commuter highway vehicle, or to a person other than an employee, you may be able to exclude all or part of the benefit under other fringe benefit rules (de minimis, working condition, etc.).
Exclusion from wages. You can usually exclude the value of transportation benefits that you provide to an employee during 2014 from the employee’s wages up to the following limits.
• $130 per month for combined commuter highway vehicle transportation and transit passes.
• $250 per month for qualified parking.
• For a calendar year, $20 multiplied by the number of qualified bicycle commuting months during that year for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement of expenses incurred during the year.
Qualified bicycle commuting month. For any employee, a qualified bicycle commuting month is any month the employee:
1. Regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment and
2. Does not receive:
a. Transportation in a commuter highway vehicle,.
b. Any transit pass, or.
c. Qualified parking benefits.
Benefits more than the limit. If the value of a benefit for any month is more than its limit, involve in the employee’s wages the amount over the limit minus any amount the employee spent for the benefit. You cannot exclude the excess from the employee’s wages as a de minimis transportation benefit.