In January 2017, bike commuters can look forward to the launch of a new program that supports their work commute to and from Penn. The Bike Commuter Expense Reimbursement Program will provide up to $240 annually to qualified faculty and staff for any out-of-pocket eligible expenses. Unlike a flexible spending account, reimbursement comes directly from the University and is not set aside from pre-tax pay by the individual program participant.
The IRS statute has guided the development of the program and the types of allowable expenses for reimbursement. Under Penn’s new program, expense categories that the University will reimburse are: bike purchases; maintenance, improvements and bike accessories; parking and commercial storage costs; and safety gear. Purchases such as membership and program fees, bike rentals, along with clothing and apparel are not considered allowable expenses.
To participate in the Bike Commuter Expense Reimbursement Program, one must:
• Be full-time benefits-eligible faculty or staff;
• Commute by bicycle to and from Penn more than 50% of the time in a qualified bike commuting month;
• Not participate in any of Penn’s other commuter transit or parking programs; and
• Register the bike with the Division of Public Safety.
The first year of the program officially kicks off on January 1, 2017, and extends until the end of the Tax Year. Claims from Tax Year 2017 may be submitted beginning
January 1 until February 28, 2018. Concur, the University’s expense management system, will be leveraged to support the overall process. Bike commuters are encouraged to access Concur at any time throughout Tax Year 2017 to upload their receipts of eligible expenses.
The introduction of Penn’s new bike commuter program parallels the continual increase of biking as a primary means of commuting to and from work. According to recent data from The League of American Bicyclists, the growth of bike commuting in Philadelphia has risen 155.4% in the period from 2000-2015.
Funding for this program is provided by the Division of Business Services as part of the University’s Climate Action Plan. Visit www.upenn.edu/biking for updates and information about this program. More news will be forthcoming as this program is still under development as we approach its launch at the beginning of 2017.