After service cuts, fare hikes and increased diversions for repairs, some straphangers might finally catch a break.
New Yorkers may soon be able to get a bigger tax deduction for mass transit expenses, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday in a news conference.
Commuters will be able to deduct up to $240 each month under a Senate version of the transportation bill, expected to pass Tuesday. Schumer is hopeful House lawmakers will add the provision to their bill, and make it retroactive to Jan. 1.
“Many people thought that the benefit of such help to New Yorkers was dead. It is not,” said Schumer (D-NY). “It has been given new life and if the House acts the way the Senate will, we can restore it.”
Schumer blamed an unnamed “group of Tea Party candidates from rural areas who don’t have mass transit” for not renewing the tax benefit before it expired on Dec. 31, slashing the deduction to $115 per month.
If the bill passes, about 500,000 New Yorkers will be affected. The Transit Center, a non-profit group, estimates that New York riders saved $200 million last year because of the legislation.
Workers can set aside money before taxes to pay for commuting, and some employers use companies like Wageworks Commuter Services to manage commuter benefits accounts.
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner said he may look to match the Democratic-led Senate’s proposal.
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, called the bill “a big milestone towards winning this critical tax relief for subway and bus riders,” adding that it’s even more beneficial for commuters who use Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North.
“To me, it’s like gold,” Russianoff told amNewYork. “You can save up to 1,000 bucks a year.”
Riders said they’d be thrilled to save a few extra dollars.
“Whatever saves me money, I will gladly take,” said Greg McDonnell, 25, of Hoboken, N.J.