Commuter Benefits

What Are Commuter Benefits?

There are two types of Commuter Benefit accounts:

1. Qualified Parking
2. Qualified Transportation

Qualified Parking account allows the employee only, not their family members or dependents, to put aside tax-free dollars each month to pay for eligible parking expenses.

Eligible parking expenses include paying for parking at the employee’s place of work or paying for parking at the location from which they are taking mass transportation to work (e.g. lightrail station).

Qualified Transportation account allows the employee only to put aside tax-free dollars each month to pay for eligible mass transit expenses.

Eligible mass transit expenses include bus, lightrail, or subway passes and vanpool (6 or more people)–any form of mass transit that the employee is using to commute to work.

By putting aside tax-free money to pay for parking and transit expenses instead of paying out of your normal bank account, you avoid losing your hard-earned money to taxes and have more to spend on the things you love.

Uber and Lyft

UberPOOL and Lyft Line rides also qualify as eligible transit expenses, though they must adhere to the IRS regulations for Qualified Transportation plans. IRS Publication 15-B states that a qualified commuter vehicle “is any highway vehicle that seats at least 6 adults (not including the driver).” If you pay for UberPOOL or Lyft Line using your personal debit or credit card and plan to file a claim to be reimbursed for the ride from your Qualified Transportation account, your assigned vehicle must have had at least 6 seats (not including the driver) for the ride to be considered an eligible expense. Individual Uber or Lyft rides (non-UberPOOL, non-Lyft Line) are not eligible transit expenses.

How Do Commuter Benefits Work?

You can enroll in one or both of these accounts during the enrollment window(s) set by your employer. You choose how much you want to contribute to your account(s), up to the maximum set by the IRS. The maximum contribution amounts in 2019 are as follows:

  • Qualified Parking: $265 per month
  • Qualified Transportation: $265 per month

Keep in mind that these maximum election amounts may vary by employer. Check with your HR team to confirm what the allowed maximum is for your plan.

Commuter benefits are eligible for the enrolled employee only, not any dependents.

When you enroll, you will receive a 24HourFlex Debit Card in the mail, which you can use to pay for eligible expenses. If you pay for an expense out-of-pocket, you can file a claim to be reimbursed from your account. You will be given access to an online Consumer Portal where you can manage your account.

The amount you elect will be deducted from your paycheck pre-tax and put into your account, which you can then use to pay for eligible expenses. You can only spend up to the balance in your account any given time. Any money you don’t use will roll over from month to month, so you can save risk-free! Check with your HR team for your specific plan details.

Unlike other FSAs, you do not need to experience a qualifying life event to change your Parking or Transit election amount. IRS regulations permit you to increase or decrease your monthly election amount at any time, if you find that the amount you are contributing exceeds your spending. Again, specific rules on when you can change your election can vary by employer, so check with your HR or Benefits team for any additional restrictions.

Wondering if Commuter Benefits could simplify your life?

Watch this short video to learn more!