It pays to participate. Explore incentives available to businesses that create employee commute programs.
Employer and Property Manager Mini-Grants - New Upper Limit Increase!
Employers and property managers in Bellevue: Choose Your Way Bellevue Business Services offers mini-grants of up to $10,000 (formerly up to $8,000) for commute-related one-time capital projects such as bike racks/amenities, real-time lobby transit screens, wayfinding for bike parking, parking facility changes to encourage high-occupancy vehicles, and time-limited promotional campaigns for non-solo commuting. This can include covering transit or vanpool fare pilots. The mini-grants can also support programs to manage daily-choice parking at your worksite.
Check out the program materials and application packet to learn more (Word version of application form here).
Rebates on new ORCA Passport programs for employers and property managers
As of May 2022, Choose Your Way Bellevue is once again offering a rebate of $50 per ORCA pass in the first year and $100 per pass in the second year for Bellevue employers, and rebates of 20% off per pass to commercial and residential property managers. The program is open to companies/worksites with 5-499 employees. Rebates are limited to 100 passes per worksite. Learn more from our program flyer. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-990-3097 to get started!
Read about ORCA Passport on our For Businesses - Resources page.
Free ORCA starter cards are available for Bellevue businesses or property managers
Choose Your Way Bellevue is encouraging your employees to try transit. We are inviting Bellevue employers and property managers to apply for ORCA cards preloaded with $8 to get you started (while supplies last). Go to our application form to learn more or get started, or contact email@example.com or 425-990-3097 for more information.
Tax Benefit Programs
State and federal tax benefits are available to employees to help offset costs incurred for employee commute benefits. Additionally, pre-tax accounts can save employees money on commute and parking expenses, as well as providing tax savings for employees.
Washington State tax benefits
If your company is providing commute trip reduction incentives (whether or not it is affected by the Commute Trip Reduction law), it may be eligible to receive Washington's Commute Trip Reduction Tax Credit.
- Eligible companies and property managers – those paying business and occupation (B&O) or public utilities taxes (PUT) can receive tax credits of up to 50% of the amount paid for each employee's transit, ridesharing, carsharing or non-motorized commuting.
- Up to $100,000 is available for each company and property manager per fiscal year.
- Tax credits have a cap of $60 per employee.
- An application must be submitted between January 1 and January 31, following the calendar year in which the applicant made the commute trip reduction incentive payments. The credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis while each year's funding lasts.
More information is available on the Washington State Department of Revenue's web page.
Federal Tax Benefits
Per the 2018 tax law, employers can still offer their employees a commute benefit free of payroll taxes. Federal tax benefits apply when the employer, or qualified third party, delivers the commute benefit to the employee in the form of a pass, ticket book or voucher.
Depending on who pays for the program, these tax benefits take the form of a tax-free employer-paid subsidy; a pre-tax payroll deduction; or a combination of both.
If the employer pays:
- The employee receives the benefit of the employer-subsidized pass, ticket book or voucher up to $255 each month, tax-free. (When the employer and employee share the cost of the pass, ticket book or voucher, the total combined tax-free and pre-tax amounts may not exceed $255 per month per employee.)
If the employee pays:
- The employer can allow the employee to pay up to $255 (see stipulation in parentheses in bullet above) for all eligible transportation expenses each month through a pre-tax payroll deduction.
- The employee saves federal withholding and FICA payroll taxes on the amount deducted.
- The employer saves paying FICA on the amount deducted.
Tax Benefit Resources
Benefits services firms can handle the administration of pretax programs. Examples of firms that offer such services include:
For additional information, check out King County Metro's Commuter Tax Benefit page. Employers are also highly encouraged to consult a tax advisor for detailed information regarding the tax implications of commute benefits and incentives.