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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Commuter Benefits Program

General Information

Eligible Expenses

Deadlines

Benefit Elections - Transit

Benefit Elections - Parking

Benefit Elections - General

Reimbursement


General Information

What is the Commuter Benefits program?

The Commuter Benefits program is a qualified transportation benefit program under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 132 which allows employees to pay for certain employment-related transportation expenses on a pre-tax basis.

Which benefits are offered?

  • Mass Transit: The Commuter Benefits program provides employees with the convenience of buying transit passes online and having them automatically delivered every month directly to their homes.

  • Parking: Employees may elect to have their parking facility paid directly every month, or they may choose to establish an account from which their parking expenses are reimbursed.

  • vanpool: Employees may elect to have their vanpool provider paid directly every month or establish a pre-tax account from which their vanpool expenses may be reimbursed.

Who is Eligible?

All state employees, including limited term employees, (LTEs) can participate in this pre-tax Commuter Benefits program. Spouses and dependent children are not eligible. Any employee who regularly pays for mass transit, vanpool or parking may take advantage of this program. NOTE: If you already have your parking or vanpool expenses deducted pre-tax from your paycheck, you do not need to sign up for this benefit. You are already enjoying a tax-free benefit.

How do I enroll?

Visit the WageWorks website where you will be able to enroll, change or delete your Commuter Benefits election.

Why should I use the Commuter Benefits program?

You will save money - up to a 40 percent tax savings on transit or parking up to the maximum pre-tax benefit limit.

  • Commuters get convenient delivery of monthly passes from transit providers.

  • A direct pay option is available to make automatic payments to your parking provider.

  • The costs for these services are automatically deducted from your paycheck.

Who is responsible for administering the program?

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) oversees the program. A third-party administrator, WageWorks, provides administrative services. WageWorks is responsible for online enrollment, order and delivery of your transit passes, paying your parking facility or vanpool directly, and processing requests for reimbursement of eligible expenses. Eligibility of expenses is dictated by the IRS, and WageWorks uses those guidelines when reviewing claims.

Is my information on the Commuter Benefits program system kept secure and private?

Yes. WageWorks, the program administrator, maintains physical, electronic and procedural safeguards for protecting personal information.

What are the dollar limits on tax-free transit and parking benefits?

Federal law limits the amount of gross wages you may spend each month on tax-free transit or parking. Effective January 1, 2014, the limits are $130 per month for transit and/or vanpool, and $250 per month for parking.

Can I combine the dollar limits from month to month?

No. The specified limits for transit, parking and vanpool apply individually to each calendar month.

Will participation in the Commuter Benefits program have an impact on my other benefits?

Participation in the Commuter Benefits program has no impact on the gross amount of earnings used to calculate retirement, life insurance, income continuation insurance, sick leave conversion credits, unemployment or workers' compensation.

The plan reduces the salary amount used for calculating Social Security benefits at retirement. Your Commuter Benefits program contribution also reduces the includable compensation used to compute the maximum amount deferred under a tax shelter annuity or deferred compensation plan.

Will I need to fill out any special tax forms to get my savings?

No. 

Eligible Expenses

What commuting expenses are eligible?

Only actual amounts spent by you for the purpose of commuting to and from work are eligible. There are limits on the amount you can claim. Two types of commuting expenses are eligible under federal law:

  • Mass transit fares, including tickets, passes, tokens, vouchers or other fares for riding buses, trains, paratransit vans or other mass transportation vehicles. The cost of participating in an official vanpool is also available. The cost of commuting in a taxi or in your personal car or van is not included.

  • Parking fees at or near your work place or parking at a location from which you commute to your work place via mass transportation or a carpool (such as a park-and-ride lot). Residential parking is not eligible.

Only parking and mass transit costs incurred by you in connection with travel between your residence and your work place are eligible.

What expenses are not eligible?

Only expenses for your workplace parking and mass transit are eligible on a pre-tax basis. Commuting expenses you cannot claim under the program include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Tolls;
  • Traffic tickets;
  • Fuel;
  • Mileage or other costs you incur in operating a vehicle;
  • Taxis;
  • Payments to a fellow carpool participant or to a friend who drives you to work;
  • Expenses incurred for parking at your spouse's place of work;
  • Parking at a mall or similar location where you stop on your drive to or from your place of work; and
  • Costs paid by your employer, such as for a business trip.

I ride in a car pool with my neighbor. Can I take advantage of this program?

Only the Commuter Benefits program participant who actually pays for the parking space may have the cost deducted from his or her paycheck on a pre-tax basis.

Is my vanpool eligible?

Under federal law, arrangements where you and other commuters share the cost of renting a van for commuting to work are eligible for tax-free transit benefits. A van that you or one of the other riders owns or operates as your personal vehicle is not a vanpool. Also, the van must be primarily used for commuting, must have a seating capacity of at least six adults including the driver and must typically be at least half full.

My parking expenses are deducted from my paycheck. Do I need to sign up for this benefit to have it deducted pre-tax?

No, if your parking is provided through a state agency and the cost is deducted from your paycheck, you are already enjoying a tax-free benefit.

Deadlines

What is the deadline to sign up, change or cancel my benefits?

The deadline for ordering transit and parking passes through the Commuter Benefits program online is the 10th of the month to receive benefits on the first of the following benefit month. If you miss the 10th of the month deadline, you will not receive your pass by the first of the following month. For example, if you enroll on September 12, you will not receive your pass until November 1.

If I sign up now, can I make changes later?

Yes. You can change or discontinue your participation in the Commuter Benefits program later.

If I don't sign up now, can I do so later?

Yes. The Commuter Benefits program is a monthly program. You may make an election every month. Remember that you must enroll by the 10th of the month to receive your transit passes or have your parking provider paid by the first of the following benefit month.

I missed the deadline for next month. What do I do?

Unfortunately, the deadline for signing up, changing or canceling benefits for any given month can not be altered. Be sure to contact WageWorks immediately when you know that your parking or transit needs may change. All changes must be made by the 10th of the month. Any benefits processed after the 10th of the month may not be refunded.

Benefit Elections - Transit

Why can't I just get a cash reimbursement, instead of ordering my transit passes online?

Government regulations prevent us from allowing cash reimbursement when a transit pass is readily available for purchase from the Commuter Benefits program site. You can be reimbursed for transit passes if:

  • The transit pass is not available through the Commuter Benefits program;

  • The transit pass is not available through the Commuter Benefits program in the denomination that you purchase from the transit agency; or

  • You purchased your pass through the Commuter Benefits program and had two occasions when the pass was not delivered.

We monitor reimbursement claims and may deny your claim if the pass is available on the Commuter Benefits program website.

Can I sign up to get my transit pass automatically without having to come back to the Commuter Benefits program every month?

Yes. By selecting "Every Month" when you configure your transit selection, you will automatically receive your transit pass. You will not need to come back to the Commuter Benefits program website unless you wish to make a change to the monthly frequency or to the type of pass.

I pay for parking at my park-and-ride lot, but pay for a bus pass separately. How do I use pre-tax dollars for both parking and transit?

You can use pre-tax dollars for parking and for transit by electing each commuter benefit separately. The bus fare would count toward the monthly transit limit; the parking fee would count toward the parking limit.

My transit plans can change from month to month. How accurate do I have to be when I predict my next month's expense?

If you are unsure about the total expense, you may wish to underestimate how much to have withheld from your paycheck. Remember the monthly pre-tax limits when making your benefit election.

Benefit Elections - Parking

What is the direct pay option for parking?

The Commuter Benefits program will automatically pay your designated parking provider on a monthly basis using your pre-tax dollars. Because your provider is paid directly, you do not need to submit paper receipts for reimbursement.

Eligible parking is the cost of parking at or near your place of work, or at or near a place from which you commute to work via mass transit, such as a park-and-ride lot. The cost of parking at your place of residence is not included under any circumstances.

When will my parking provider be paid under the direct pay option?

Any payment instruction that you create by the 10th of each month is sent to your parking provider so that it arrives before the first of the subsequent month. For example, if on June 8 you instruct the Commuter Benefits program to pay $100 to Ed's Garage, Ed's Garage will receive payment in time to post it to your account before July 1.

Can I schedule payments to occur at some other time during the month?

No.

I pay for my parking every day or every week. Can I use the direct pay option?

Direct pay can be used to make payments once a month. You cannot schedule daily or weekly payments. Otherwise, use the pay me back feature from the Parking menu to be reimbursed for your daily or weekly out-of-pocket expenses.

Benefit Elections - General

What happens to my transit pass order or parking payment if I leave state service?

Be sure to logon to the WageWorks website and cancel your benefit election immediately when you know that your parking or transit needs may change. All changes must be made before the 10th of the month. Any benefits processed after the 10th of the month may not be refunded.

What if the parking I use isn't available through the Commuter Benefits program system?

You can still enjoy tax savings on parking if you report it as an out-of-pocket expense. Simply enroll in the pay me back option to have your expenses reimbursed directly to you. You may then enter your usual monthly out-of-pocket expenditure.

My monthly commuting costs vary.  How much should I enter for my monthly expense?

You should enter your usual expense in an ordinary month, ignoring special circumstances like sick days, short vacations and occasional overtime.

What happens to my pay me back election if I do not use all the money deposited into my commuter benefit account for the current month?

There is no "use it or lose it" rule. Excess balances will be carried over to the subsequent month. You may adjust future monthly Commuter Benefit elections to avoid having an excess balance.

Reimbursement 

If I buy my transit pass or have my parking facility paid directly through the Commuter Benefits program, do I need to submit a receipt?

No. You only need to submit receipts if you report your out-of-pocket expenses.

With the pay me back option, how do I get reimbursed for my daily parking expenses?

Submit your receipts for the month and a reimbursement claim form to WageWorks. Please allow 10 to 15 days to receive your reimbursement check.

What kind of supporting documents need to be submitted so that I can be reimbursed?

When submitting a claim include an expense receipt from the parking facility or transit provider that shows:

  • the name of the vendor;
  • the date(s) the service was provided; and
  • the cost for the service.

When proof that an eligible expense has occurred is not available, you must sign and submit a statement indicating the expense incurred. Canceled checks are acceptable as supporting documentation.

You can also create an electronic receipt at www.wageworks.com. Click the "Commuter" tab and follow the instructions. If you use the "eReceipt" option, you do not have to send a claim form.

I have the same out-of-pocket expense every month.  Do I still need to submit receipts?

Yes. Commuter Benefits will withhold your out-of-pocket expense automatically from your paycheck if you click "Every Month," for your account, but you still need to submit receipts. Your commuting expenses will not be reimbursed until the Commuter Benefits program receives your receipts.

My provider doesn't give receipts or ticket stubs. What should I do?

You can submit an eReceipt online to certify your expense at www.wageworks.com. Select "Request Pay Me Back" and click on your expense link to access the eReceipt option.

What happens if I don't submit receipts or other documentation?

Your commute expenses will not be reimbursed until you submit your receipts.

Where do I get more of the Commuter Benefits program reimbursement request forms?

Reimbursement forms are available under the Commuter tab on the WageWorks website.

WageWorks Customer Service 1-855-428-0446

www.wageworks.com

 

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