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Congress Fails To Renew Commuter Tax Credit, Slicing Some Benefits In Half Jan. 1

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Getting to work by bus or rail could get pricey for Marylanders starting January 1.

Christie Ileto explains Marylanders enrolled in a federal tax benefit for commuters may have to pay more.

Mass transit commuters in Maryland–expect to pay more next month.

Congress failed to renew an expiring commuter tax credit that rewards mass transit use. Starting January, thousands of Marylanders who ride commuter buses or Marc trains could start paying for it–literally.

“On Jan. 1 the federal government’s commuter benefits threshold will be reduced,” said Buddy Alves, Maryland Transit Administration.

The tax benefit will be cut to $130 a month starting January 1. That’s from $245 a month. So, what does this mean for Marylanders?

MTA says those using the $64 passes remain completely covered by the $130 benefit, but:

“If they’re going, say, from Baltimore to Washington, they will still get a benefit of $130 towards the cost of their $150 monthly pass, but they will have to use some after tax money to pay for the rest of it,” Alves said.

MTA says about 6,000 Marc train riders and almost 3,000 bus commuters in the state participate in the program. Max Tondre, who commutes from Penn Station to Washington, D.C., is one of them.

“It’s a significant hit for us,” Tondre said.

And while mass transit commuter benefits fall, drivers commuting will get a slightly bigger break as parking benefits jump to $250 a month.

“If you have transit, you get effectively almost about half of what you do if you’re parking,” Tondre said. “It’s frustrating. I think it’s unfair, I think it should be, across the board it should be fair and even for everybody. “

Benefits could be restored retroactively when Congress returns from break.

MTA says anyone with questions about the change in benefits should call 410-767-8750.

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