A reminder that by September 30, 2014, employers with fifty (50) or more full-time employees within the jurisdiction of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (encompassing Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Napa county and portions of Solano and Sonoma counties) must provide their employees with one of four commuter benefits:

  1. Allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income (up to the maximum allowed by federal law – currently $130 per month).
  2. Provide a transit or vanpool subsidy to cover or reduce monthly expenses (up to a maximum of $75 per month).
  3. Provide free or low-cost bus, shuttle, or vanpool service.
  4. Provide an alternative benefit that is as effective as the other options in reducing single-occupant vehicle trips and/or vehicle emissions.

The program has various requirements for eligibility, participation, employee notice, registration and recordkeeping. Employers in cities that already impose commuter benefit programs (e.g., San Francisco) may be exempt from the local programs if they meet the requirements for the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program.

Companies should revisit their commuter benefit plan offerings to ensure compliance with this new program.