Commuters in the Bay Area are already having a (slightly) better year. On January 1st, Congress increased the pretax commuter benefit to $245 as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act. Now, it looks like the City will be strengthening the enforcement mechanism of a four-year old law that requires larger businesses to offer their employees commuter benefits.
“Under San Francisco’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance, all businesses with 20 or more workers nationwide must offer one of three transit benefits: The pretax deduction, up to $245 per month, for transit or van pool expenses; transit subsidies valued at $74, the cost of a monthly Muni pass; or a van pool from a worker’s home to place of business.”
The goal of the renewed focus on the law is two-fold. First, the city wants to make sure that employees are aware of the law and how to best take advantage of it. Second, the city wants to strengthen the enforcement mechanisms of the law.
Under the proposed changes to the law, a complaint would lead to an investigation, and if the investigation determined that the business was indeed in violation of the law, then it would be issued a warning. If the business did not comply with the warning within 90 days then it could be fined $500.
The commuter benefits aren’t just small change either. It is estimated that employees taking advantage of the law save between between $200 and $1,000 annually.