IRS Information Letter Addresses Transit Plan’s Mandatory Use of Debit Card

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The IRS recently released an information letter providing that a qualified transportation plan can require participants to use a debit card to pay for transit expenses, even if the circumstances might otherwise permit participants to claim cash reimbursement from their employer. As the letter explains, IRS regulations allow qualified transit plans to offer cash reimbursement for transit passes in situations where no voucher or similar item that can be exchanged for a transit pass is “readily available” for distribution to employees. Even if an employer makes a factual determination that the “readily available” standard does apply to its geographic area, however, the employer can still decide to prohibit cash reimbursement under its transit plan and require participants to use a debit card to pay for transportation expenses. As the letter points out, so long as a transit plan meets the minimum requirements necessary for favorable tax treatment, employers are free to impose additional restrictions. Although this information letter has no official precedential value, it is still useful insofar as it serves to illuminate the IRS’ view pertaining to mandatory use of debit cards to pay for transit expenses.

Categories: Benefits in General, Compliance | Tags: transit , transportation , qualified transportation plan , readily available | Return