President Toni Preckwinkle Encourages Companies to Offer Pre-Tax Transit Benefits to Employees and Earn Incentives

CHICAGO (January 20, 2012)—Today Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presented checks to two local companies that have taken advantage of an incentive program that reduces the cost of public transportation for employees. The Transit Ridership Improvement Program (TRIP) is a short-term incentive program that provides hundreds, even thousands of dollars to companies that provide pre-tax transit benefits to their employees. TRIP is available to all Cook County employers until February 10th.

“Gas prices remain high, and there’s no sign of relief as the year progresses. Public transportation is an affordable and convenient way for people to get where they need to go save money in the process,” said President Toni Preckwinkle. “TRIP makes it even more cost-effective for people to travel by bus or train and we encourage employers and employees to sign up.”

Normally, employees earn their income, are taxed, and then pay to ride transit to get to work. With employers offering a pre-tax transit benefit program through TRIP, employees can lower their tax burden by hundreds of dollars per year, depending on their transit costs and tax bracket. In addition to saving employees money increased transit use helps reduce congestion and improve air quality.

“We appreciate President Preckwinkle’s leadership to promote transit and publicize a special opportunity for employers to financially benefit by signing employees up for TRIP,” said Joe Costello, RTA Executive Director, who attended the press conference. The RTA has engaged in legislative advocacy to encourage Congress to establish parity with the parking pre-tax benefit.

TRIP benefits employers as well. Participating businesses will reduce their payroll taxes while providing a valuable benefits program to their employees. Between now and February 10, Cook County employers that join TRIP will receive direct payouts that can total hundreds of dollars. Participating employers will receive:
• $30 for any new employee who signs up for the pre-tax transit benefits.
• An additional $200 for companies that are introducing a pre-tax transit benefit program for the first time and enroll five of more employees.

President Preckwinkle presented a check to General Growth Properties in the amount of $720 and to the law firm of Daley, Mohan and Groble in the amount of $980. These are just two of the 180 companies that have taken advantage of the program so far.

“The Center for Neighborhood Technology and RTA answered our questions, walked us through the initial process, and supported us in offering our employees transit benefits,” said Kathi Roccanova, Daley, Mohan and Groble’s office manager. “Our employees love the tax savings and we love being able to offer them this monthly benefit.”

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), which helps administer TRIP, provides one-on-one consultation with businesses interested in enrolling in the program, addresses company concerns, and walks through the initial steps in providing these low-cost, money-saving, employee benefits.

Companies and employees are encouraged to visit www.lesstaxingcommute.com to learn more about pre-tax transit benefits and TRIP. Companies interested in providing these transportation benefits to their employees can email jdrew@cnt.org for more information.

Funding for TRIP is made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The Cook County Department of Environmental Control administers the program in coordination with CNT and RTA.