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Originally published Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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New tax law gives bicyclists subsidy

Bicycle commuters, Congress has your back. Buried deep in the federal Emergency Economic Stabilization Act — the $700 billion Wall...

The Sacramento Bee

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bicycle commuters, Congress has your back.

Buried deep in the federal Emergency Economic Stabilization Act — the $700 billion Wall Street bailout — is an unexpected boost for the greenest of commuters.

With a tax-code change, beginning in January, companies can give up to $20 a month to workers who pedal to work. It would be tax-free to cycling commuters, and a tax write-off for employers.

Riders would use the subsidy to defray commute costs, such as bike tires or lights, helmets or rental fees for bike lockers at work. Employers who offer a subsidy can determine who qualifies and how much they should get.

The author, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said cyclists deserve a subsidy — albeit small — like the handouts some companies offer commuters who use transit or carpools.

"We shouldn't discriminate against people who burn calories instead of fossil fuel," said Blumenauer.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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