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New law offers tax break for New York City commuters using mass transit

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FORT GREENE, Brooklyn – Riding the MTA's buses or subway trains could provide an extra financial benefit thanks to a new law that went into commission at the start of 2016 in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be in Brooklyn handing out flyers before explaining details of the new mandate at Barclays Center Monday morning. The City's Commuter Benefits Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, will give almost a half million New Yorkers a transit-related tax break that will save them hundreds a piece a year.

"At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stretch their hard-earned dollars, we are saving them hundreds every year and encouraging a greener a way of travel," de Blasio said in an early press release. "Through powerful advocacy on the local and federal level to support our city's straphangers, NYC employees and employers alike will feel the benefits of this law in their pocketbooks."

The law requires city businesses with 20 or more full-time employees to offer a federal commuter tax benefit that allows workers to put aside up to $130 in earnings a month before taxes to pay for transportation costs.

For example,  a monthly Metrocard at $116.50 ends up costing nearly $1,400 a year. Much of that money could become tax-free.  An individual earning an income of about $33,000 could save up to $443 a year on their tax bills while allowing employers to save money on their payroll taxes.

Some are saying this a big day for New York City transit riders as fares continue to increase and this law could make public transit more affordable.

The bill has face criticism from business groups who say it would add another administrative burden to small-business owners. Employers have a six-month grace period until July 1 before the Department of Consumer Affairs can issue a notice of violation. After this date , employers have an additional 90 days to cure violations before penalties are imposed.

This pre-tax money can be used for mass transit (MTA subway and bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak), eligible ferry, water taxi, vanpool and commuter bus services, and Access-A-Ride.

For more information, head over to the City's Commuter Benefits Law FAQ page here.