Summary of Commuter Benefit Laws (Current as of Feb. 3, 2020)

By , and on February 20, 2020

An increasing number of jurisdictions around the country, including parts of California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, are mandating that employers provide commuter benefit programs that allow employees to pay for commuting costs on a pre-tax basis. While the requirements are similar across most jurisdictions, there are specific rules for which employees are covered under the different laws and other key distinctions. When budgeting and developing these programs, employers should be mindful of the different conditions under state and local law to ensure that commuter benefits meet all applicable requirements.

City/County/State Citation Covered Employers Covered Employees Reimbursement Limit
Berkeley, CA Berkeley Commuter Benefit Program Ordinance B.M.C. 9.88 (TRACCC) Berkeley employers with 10 or more employees, including those who work outside the geographic boundaries of Berkeley Any person who has performed an average of at least 10 hours of work per week for compensation within the geographic boundaries of Berkeley for the same employer within the previous 12 months and qualifies as an employee entitled to minimum wage payments under the California minimum wage law Same as IRS (“up to the maximum level allowed by federal tax law”)
Richmond, CA Richmond Commuter Benefits Ordinance Ord. No. 22-09 N.S. s. 1, 7-21-09 Richmond employers for which an average of 10 or more persons per week perform work for compensation, including those who perform work outside the geographic boundaries of Richmond Any person who performs an average of at least 10 hours of work per week for compensation over a 90-day period within the geographic boundaries of Richmond for the same employer and qualifies as an employee entitled to minimum wage payments under the California minimum wage law. Same as IRS (“up to the maximum level allowed by federal tax law”)
San Francisco, CA San Francisco Environment Code Sec. 421 (Commuter Benefits Program) San Francisco employers for which an average of 20 or more persons per week perform work for compensation (full-time, part-time and temporary employees are counted, as are employees who work outside the geographic boundaries of San Francisco) Any person who performs an average of at least 10 hours of work per week for compensation within the geographic boundaries of San Francisco for the same employer within the previous calendar month and qualifies as an employee entitled to minimum wage payments under the California minimum wage law Same as IRS (“up to maximum level allowed by federal tax law”)
San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southwestern Solano and southern Sonoma Counties) Government Code Section 65081 (Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program) Any employers for which an average of 50 or more full-time employees per week perform work for compensation within the geographic area covered by the ordinance An employee who has performed at least an average of 20 hours per week within the previous calendar month within the geographic area covered by the ordinance Same as IRS (“up to the maximum amount allowed by federal tax law”)
New Jersey P.L. 2019, Chapter 38 (NJ Transit Benefits Law) Every employer in New Jersey that employs at least 20 employees All employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement Same as IRS (“at the maximum benefit levels” allowable under federal law)
Seattle (not effective until January 1, 2020; enforcement begins January 1, 2021) Seattle Municipal Code Title 14 Chapter 14.30 (Commuter Benefit) Employers who employ 20 or more employees (including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, and those who work outside of Seattle) Employees who work an average of 10 hours or more per week in Seattle in the previous calendar month Same as IRS (“up to the maximum level allowed by federal law”)
Washington, DC D.C. Act 20-385 (Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014) Employers located in Washington, DC, with 20 or more employees Full-time and part-time employees who (a) perform 50% of their work in Washington, DC, or (b) whose employment is based in DC, and a substantial amount of their work is performed in DC with less than 50% of their work performed in any other state Same as IRS (“the maximum amount that may be deducted . . . pursuant to section 132(f)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code”)

 

Jacob MattinsonJacob Mattinson
Jacob M. Mattinson focuses his practice on employee benefits and matters related to 401(k), 403(b), pension, executive compensation, health care reform, and cafeteria and welfare plans. Jacob assists clients in drafting employee benefit plan documents and amendments. He represents clients in matters before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), US Department of Labor (DOL) and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation with respect to plain qualification issues. Read Jacob Mattinson's full bio.


Erin SteeleErin Steele
Erin Steele focuses her practice on employee benefits and executive compensation. She has experience working on matters related to employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), code section 401(k) plans, health and welfare arrangements, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) litigation. She has also assisted in employee benefits matters as part of corporate transactional due diligence work. Read Erin Steele's full bio.


Judith WethallJudith Wethall
Judith Wethall focuses her practice on employee benefits, specifically health and welfare programs. She counsels employers, plan administrators, insurers and consultants on a wide range of ERISA compliance issues. Judith's clients include sole proprietors to Fortune 100 companies and cover a variety of industries including health care, technology, manufacturing, insurance and financial. Read Judith Wethall's full bio.

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