Friday, January 20, 2012
Jennifer L. Shoulberg (J.D. 2011, St. Louis), Comment, Pedaling Toward a More Equitable Tax-Ride for Cyclists, 55 St. Louis U. L.J. 423 (2010):
Through the discussion of the historical treatment of similar employee commuting benefits and the application of a tax expenditure analysis, this comment sought to highlight the inequities and negative social policies reflected in our Tax Code. After looking back at the historical treatment of similar employee commuting benefits, it is clear that as we go forward into the next decade, we must change the current treatment of transportation fringe benefits under the Tax Code.
As stated in the introduction, our tax laws reflect our vision of who we are as a society and how we perceive ourselves. Under our current tax laws, the generous parking subsidies reward fuel consumption and pollution, while concurrently discouraging commuting by mass transit, carpools, and bicycles. To more accurately reflect our nation’s commitment to resolving the global energy crisis and to reducing our nation’s dependence on fuel, the Tax Code needs to be reformed. Specifically, the maximum nontaxable reimbursement for bicycle commuting expenses should be increased. Further, employees should be permitted to receive nontaxable benefits for bicycle commuting expenses and commuter highway vehicle and transit pass benefits concurrently. Such changes would not only eliminate the bias existing in the current code in favor of parking benefits which encourage socially undesirable behavior, but would also act as an incentive for employees to choose alternative methods of transportation.