Here are some CTA news stories of note from the last few days.
Airlines are dodging taxes, RTA claims. United and American Airlines are running "sham business operations" that are depriving the Regional Transportation Authority of about $300 million in tax revenue over the last seven, the transit agency charged today. The airlines buy jet fuel from small offices in Sycamore, Ill., and thus avoid paying higher taxes if the offices were in the Chicago area. Both airlines say what they are doing is allowed under Illinois. Read the Tribune report for more details.
Congress increases transit benefit "tax shelter." The last-minute tax law passed by Congress to avoid running over the "fiscal cliff" included a little cookie for public transit users -- an increase in the transit benefit that can be sheltered from taxes. As of Jan. 1, the pre-tax amount from the commuter transit benefit increased to $240 from $125. For all practical purposes, this will really help Metra customers more than CTA customers, since $100, the new cost of a monthly CTA pass, is the most a CTA rider could spend in one month as part of the program.
However, Metra riders will benefit greatly since their monthly passes can cost well over $125. And those who use the Metra CTA Link-up pass also will benefit. The $240 benefit now matches what Congress provided as a tax-free parking benefit for drivers - which is only fair. In 2012 the commuter benift dropped to $125 from $230, while the parking benefit remained $240. Also, the newly increased commuter benefit is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012. But you have to work with your employer to figure out how that's going to be implemented retroactively.
Filed under: CTA in the news