Rising gas prices are once again causing worry amongst U.S. travelers, especially those with daily commutes to and from work. Current prices have consistently increased for the past 21 days with the present U.S. average standing at $3.52 per gallon. California leads the pack at $3.91 per gallon.
To help lower employee anxiety over rising gas prices, and potentially tap in to tax incentives, companies can offer transportation benefits as part of energy efficient planning.
The most commonly implemented and recommended transportation benefits include:
- Employer provided transit passes – if public transportation is readily available and widely used by your employees, consider contacting your local transit authority for a corporate account. You might be able to provide public transportation offers to your employees at a discounted rate.
- Carpool subsidies – because of tax implications, employers need to be a bit creative with carpool subsidies. Some ideas include providing preferential parking spaces for carpools, either on employer lots or by paying for spaces; holding regular prize drawings for carpoolers; and allowing carpoolers to trade “drive-and-ride points” for certificates or merchandise/services.
- Bike commuter facilities – adequate and safe bicycle parking, locker rooms and shower facilities are a few of the options you can provide to help encourage your employees to commute via bicycle.
- Telecommuting programs – increasingly, many types of work are as easily performed from home as they are from an office. If telecommuting makes sense for your company, you can not only help eliminate anxiety over rising gas prices, but also help reduce utility costs to your company due to less usage.
As with other energy efficiency programs, it is best to consult with your accountant to understand all of the potential tax benefits available and how they can be applied to your company.
Beyond the ecological and energy-related advantages of a commuter benefits program, employers also profit from the ability to enhance their benefits package with an incentive that can be used to attract and retain qualified employees.