***Important Update– Beginning on January 1, 2016, mass transit CRA participants will no longer be able to request a claim reimbursement for mass transit expenses. Participants may only use the Beniversal or eTRAC Card for commuter benefit plan expenses. Claims will continue to be accepted for parking and vanpools.***
Commuter reimbursement Accounts provide employees with pre-tax reimbursements for out-of-pocket mass transit and parking expenses. If you participate in a CRA, you will reduce your federal, state and local income tax liability because your elected contributions are not subject to these taxes.
If your taxable income is $50,000 and you put $115 a month into a CRA for mass transit expenses, your annual federal savings alone would be approximately $315 (25% tax bracket). Although you still pay $1,260 in mass transit expenses for the year, you will not be paying taxes on that amount. As you can see, the impact on your tax liability can be considerable.
There are two types of Commuter Reimbursement Accounts:
The Transportation Reimbursement Account (TRA) allows you to now set aside up to $255/month ($127.50/paycheck) in 2016 on a pre-tax basis to cover mass-transit expenses on any public transit commuter system. This includes New York City Transit Authority buses and subways, Long Island Railroad, Metro north Commuter Railroad, New Jersey Transit, Staten Island Rapid Transit, Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. (PATH), commuter and suburban bus services, Amtrak and certain ferry and registered van pool services.
The Parking Reimbursement Account (PRA) allows you to set aside up to $255/month ($127.50/paycheck) in 2016 on a pre-tax basis for parking expenses incurred near your place of employment while at work. It will also cover expenses incurred for parking near a location where you board mass transit.
Enrolling in the CRA
Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI) is the current administrator of Pace University's CRA plans. Eligible employees may enroll by completing the enrollment form. Your enrollment form must be received in the University Benefits Office by the 15th of the month in order to be processed for the 1st of the following month.
The monthly amount(s) you elect will be evenly deducted from your semi-monthly paychecks. In order to receive a reimbursement, you can fax or mail to BRI a completed Commuter Claim Form along with the appropriate receipts to the third party administrator. Any contributions unused during a particular month cannot be paid as taxable compensation.
Claims must be submitted with 180 days from the date of service incurring the commuting or parking expense.
eTRAC COMMUTE DEBIT CARD
Benefit Resources inc. offers the eTRAC debit card. The eTRAC card is a MasterCard "stored value" card. If an employee loses a card, it can be reported lost and his/her funds are guaranteed. The pre- and post-tax payroll deductions are automatically loaded onto the card each month, and the card can be used to purchase the choice of fare; from a single fare to a month's worth. Employees can purchase exactly the amount they need, and any unused amount rolls over to the next month. This encourages greater usage and tax savings. eTRAC Commute can be used for both workplace parking and mass transit fees.
Making a Change to Your CRA Elections
Once you are enrolled in the CRA program, you can make the following changes:
- change or temporarily discontinue your monthly contributions
- add an additional post-tax contribution
- switch to the transportation or parking reimbursement account
- cancel your participation
Changes can be made at any time by completing the Commuter Enrollment/Change Form, located on the Human Resources web page under Forms. Please fax the completed form to the University Benefits Office at 914-989-8506.
All changes made by the 15th of the month will be effective on the 1st of the following month and subsequently reflected in your paycheck. For example, if you make a change to your CRA by October 15th, your change is effective on November 1st and will be reflected in your November 15th paycheck. If you make a change on October 16th, your change is effective on December 1st and will be reflected in your December 15th paycheck.
You can obtain information on the status of your account by calling BRI at 800-473-9595. You may also check the status of your account online at www.BenefitResource.com via secure login. Note: The Company Code is "paceuniv" (minus the quotation marks). The Member ID is your U#. The Password is your home Zip Code.
An employee who participates in the Commuter Reimbursement Account (Mass Transit and/or Parking) will have until the end of the month following the month in which he/she separates from the University, to use his/her current BRI eTRAC Card to pay for eligible commuting expenses. Once all claims have been reimbursed and/or card transactions have settled, remaining balances will be transferred to a new commuter plan administered by Benefit Resource, Inc. A letter, containing details about the plan, will be mailed to the eligible employee by Benefit Resource, Inc. An employee must have at least $11.50 in his/her account, at the time that it is closed, to be eligible for this option. The spend down account will remain open until the balance is exhausted to $0, at which point it will automatically be closed. Interested employees should contact BRI directly, at 1-800-473-9595, for further information regarding the spend down option.