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Bike Sharing Is a Winner in the Senate Tax Bill

Bike sharing systems would be among the winners under draft legislation extending a laundry list of tax incentives that Senate tax writers approved last week.

New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer secured adoption of an amendment during a Finance Committee markup that would allow commuters to use the $20 monthly pre-tax bicycle commuting benefit to pay membership fees for bike-sharing systems.

Schumer called such options “a boon to commuters, the economy and clean air.” He said cyclists “deserve the same benefits granted to those who drive cars and use mass transit to get to work.”

Adding the option will aid cyclists using one of the dozens of bike-sharing systems that have cropped up in recent years in the United States, including New York’s Citibike and Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare. At least 20 more cities plan to set up their own bike-sharing systems this year.

The 2009 stimulus (PL 111-5) first extended a $20 monthly pre-tax transportation benefit to cyclists, but the IRS ruled last summer that bike share memberships were not a qualified expense.

Andy Clark, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said adding the benefit puts users “on an equal footing” with other commuters and is “a simple, symbolic and welcome recognition of this emerging new player in the urban transportation landscape.”

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