Special Coverage: Bike Commuter Act

Welcome to my special coverage of Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s attempt to add a tax benefit for bike commuters to the U.S. tax code.

Blumenauer legislation would bulk up and clear up bike commuter benefit

Posted on March 12th, 2009 at 12:52 pm.

National Bike Summit - Day three-10
Rep. Earl Blumenauer at
a reception this morning
on Capitol Hill.
(Photo © J. Maus)

When the Bike Commuter Benefit Act passed back in October, it was somewhat of a shallow victory for advocates who had pushed for its passage for seven long years. Not only did it pass as a ploy to build support for the controversial financial bailout bill, the “benefit” it provides is small ($20 per month compared to $230 for parking a car and $120 a month for taking transit), and the implementation has been the source of massive confusion to HR people across the country. Worse yet, the Bike Commuter Benefit Act included language that required bike riding employees to choose between the bike benefit or the transit benefit.


Everything you want to know about the new bike commuter tax provision

Posted on October 7th, 2008 at 9:13 pm.

[Via BikingBis.com]

After news broke about the passage of the bike commuter tax provision in the recent financial bailout bill, many commenters had questions about how it would work.

To help answer those questions, the League of American Bicyclists has published a list of Frequently Asked Questions. I’ve pasted excerpts from each question below:


House passes bailout bill; bike commuter tax benefit becomes law

Posted on October 3rd, 2008 at 10:45 am.

Blumenauer unveils Gas Price Relief Act-2.jpg
Blumenauer at the unveiling of his
Gas Price Relief Act, one of many
pieces of legislation that included
a bike commuter tax break
over the years.
(Photo: J. Maus)

What a long, strange trip it’s been for Congressman Earl Blumenauer and his Bike Commuter Act.

The House Democrat is a former City Commissioner of Transportation in Portland (1987-96) and he was at the helm during Portland’s Golden Age of biking — a time when we laid down much of our bikeway network infrastructure that is now the envy of many cities.

Blumenauer carried his commitment to biking into the halls of Congress and has worked the system relentlessly to pass bike-friendly legislation like the bike commuter tax benefit. Calling it a “matter of equity”, his idea is simple; give bike commuters the same respect and recognition in the tax code already given to folks that drive and take public transit.


UPDATED: Senate sweetens bailout bill with Bike Commuter Act

Posted on October 2nd, 2008 at 10:19 am.

[See below for updates: Hint, Blumenauer is saying he won’t support the bailout package.]

“The (bailout) bill now includes a… tax benefit for bicycle commuting sought by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, also a “no” vote on Monday.”
— from an article in the Baltimore Sun

Hoping to garner votes from House members who previously voted “no” on the $700 billion financial bailout package, the U.S. Senate has added several sweeteners to the bill (now known as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008”).

Among those enhancements (according to this article in the Baltimore Sun) is the Bike Commuter Act, a piece of legislation championed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer for many years. Blumenauer voted “no” on the bailout on Monday and the move by the Senate is being done in hopes to turn that into a “yes”.


Oregon House Rep. drafts bike commuter tax break legislation

Posted on October 1st, 2008 at 9:56 am.

John Lim (R-Gresham)

This morning’s Gresham Outlook newspaper has a story about new legislation that has been drafted by Oregon State Rep. John Lim (R-Gresham) that would give a tax break to bike commuters.

According to the Outlook, the current draft language of the bill says,

“a taxpayer who rides a bicycle to work at least 10 days a month could receive a $15 tax credit per month that would be applied to their personal income tax. A business could claim up to a $5,000 corporate tax credit for installing bicycle racks and showers for their employees who commute by bicycle.”


Will fourth time be the charm for Bike Commuter Act?

Posted on September 17th, 2008 at 4:22 pm.

“I think it’s the best chance the Bike Commuter Act has had so far in the Senate.”
— Katie Drennan, a legislative assistant for Congressman Earl Blumenauer

For the fourth time this session, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that includes a tax benefit people who ride their bikes to work.

The Bike Commuter Act has taken many forms and has been a part of several different pieces of legislation over the years. Amazingly, even though the legislation seeks only to offer the same benefits to those who bike to work as those who drive or take transit, it has been ridiculed (remember Patrick McHenry?) and has lacked support for being too expensive (that’s what Oregon Senator Gordon Smith thought in May 2006) among other things.


National Bike Bill passes U.S. House vote

Posted on May 29th, 2008 at 10:30 am.

Bike legislation is moving
forward in D.C.
(Photo © J. Maus)

House Congressional Resolution 305, also known as the National Bike Bill, has passed through a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week.

The resolution — which was introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) back in February — recognizes the importance of bicycling to “enriching the nation’s health, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving America’s economic vitality and overall quality of life.”


Bike commute benefit, SUV tax loophole pass House vote

Posted on February 27th, 2008 at 2:56 pm.

Now it’s onto the Senate. More on this story was published yesterday. Official press release from Blumenauer’s office is below:


Bike Commuter Act, “Hummer tax loophole” up for House vote tomorrow

Posted on February 26th, 2008 at 1:03 pm.

National Bike Summit 07
Blumenauer, shown here at the National Bike
Summit last year, hopes his Bike Commuter
Act will finally fly with lawmakers.
(Photo © J. Maus)

On the heels of record profits by the big five oil companies, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) will once again try to enact a tax benefit for bike commuters and close the “Hummer tax loophole.”

The bike commuter tax benefit (a.k.a. the Bike Commuter Act and the Conserve By Bike provision) would amend the IRS code to include “bicycles” in the definition of transportation covered by fringe benefits. The Hummer tax loophole would fix what Blumenauer refers to as “a serious mistake” in the tax code that provides an additional tax break for business purchases of luxury SUVs weighing over 6,000 lbs.


Bike commuter benefit does not survive Senate vote on Energy Bill

Posted on December 14th, 2007 at 3:35 pm.

National Bike Summit 07
Congressman Earl Blumenauer introducing the
Bike Commuter Act on Capitol Hill last March.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

The bike commuter tax benefit — which was introduced to Congress by Earl Blumenauer last March and passed a House vote last week — has been stripped out of the Energy Bill by the Senate.

The U.S. Senate passed the Energy Bill yesterday, but not before removing several “green initiatives” included in the bill by the Blumenauer-led Ways and Means Committee.