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Change Your Commute and Get a Reward

People getting off bus (rs)










We received a question from one of our readers inquiring about tax incentives for local businesses that encourage their employees to use mass transit and forms of transportation other than single occupant vehicles. Since there were several resources to share, we want to make it available to other readers here on the blog.

Various levels of government encourage the use of transit and other ways to travel, through tools like tax breaks, incentive programs and technical support. Here are some examples:

City of Seattle $25 head tax waiver

The City assesses each employer $25 per year for each employee who works at the employer’s Seattle work site. The employer does not have to pay the $25 for each employee who does not drive alone to work. 

Federal tax break on transit use

Federal law lets workers receive up to $230 a month in employer-paid tax-free transit or vanpool benefits, or take up to $230 a month in tax-sheltered payroll deductions for transit costs. For many years employee parking received a higher tax break, but now transit or vanpool benefits for employees receive the same tax break as employee parking. Please see this brochure for more information.

City of Seattle Commuter Cash program

The City provides anyone who works in Seattle up to $30 per month for two months if they convert their commuting from driving alone to another mode of travel. Visit for information on this and other incentive programs.

Transit passes

Transit agencies sell companies transit passes for their employees.  King County METRO offers these companies discounts during the first couple of years of their transit pass purchases. Employers in the Puget Sound area who buy transit passes for all of their employees receive a significant price reduction. The new regional ORCA transit fare card has many advantages such as acceptance by all Puget Sound transit agencies as transit fare, and more convenient ways to manage your company’s transit pass account. Some employers will save money by buying transit passes on the new ORCA cards compared to the previous transit passes they purchased before ORCA was available.

Support and information

Regional transit agencies, cities and Commute Seattle (a partner of the City of Seattle) provide resources for employees to find a carpool partner, join a vanpool, walk, bike, and use transit and for employers to start telework and flex time programs.  Visit and click on the “employer” tab.

If you have additional questions please call Kathy Anderson at 684-5017 about the head tax, Eric Mamroth at 684-5420 about the federal tax break and David Allen at 733-9302 about Commuter Cash and other questions.SLU Streetcar Photo (rs)