Many Long Island Railroad commuters save money through a monthly pre-tax deduction, the money of which is in transit accounts owned by commuters and can only be used to pay for transit charges. Some who have taken the train to work regularly, however, found themselves out of work or telecommuting during the pandemic, causing these funds to accumulate in individual accounts.
Senator Charles Schumer stopped at Merrick Station on Monday to ask the Internal Revenue Service, which controls access to the funds, to release the money for commuters who benefit from the program. Some runners’ accounts have racked up hundreds of dollars – and in one case, shared by State Senator Todd Kaminsky, was over $ 1,800.
“I wrote the Federal Benefit Program designed to help New Yorkers save money with a pre-tax transit deduction each month. It’s a great idea and it works for countless commuters, but amid the uncertainty of Covid, many people’s money has piled up in an account that the IRS does not directly oversee, but also a account that commuters cannot access for other users, ”said Schumer. “So commuters are rightfully upset that they can’t get their unused transit benefit dollars back. “
Schumer called on the IRS to “find a solution” and added that he would introduce legislation on the matter if a solution was not found.
“It has been a very difficult year for many Long Islanders,” Kaminsky said. “Five hundred and 800, over $ 1,000 means a lot to a Long Island family, and knowing that their money is close at hand but not accessible has been simply unacceptable.”
Kaminsky shared an email his office received from an Oceanside family who have two accounts that have a total of $ 1,800, “which is money we could use during that time,” it read. in the letter.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Schumer wrote: “The significant workplace disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic has limited the ability of individuals to plan their benefit elections from weeks to weeks. ‘advance. “
“Tens of thousands of people have millions of dollars locked in in pre-tax benefits,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Long Island Commuter Council. “This would be the perfect time to find a way for cyclists – whose commutes may still be on hiatus – to access these funds for essential expenses like rent and food.”