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Commuter Choice Accounts

Effective January 1, 2020, Baltimore County is partnering with Benefit Strategies, LLC to offer eligible employees two new benefit plans, Commuter Choice Parking and Transit Accounts.

Intended for use by the employee only, these accounts help reduce the strain on your paycheck from work-related transportation expenses. Section 132 of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code allows you to use “pre-tax” dollars up to a monthly maximum for eligible mass transit and parking expenses. Benefit Strategies makes it easy for you to take advantage of this pre-tax benefit to reduce your taxable income and put more money in your pocket.

Understanding Your Accounts

There are two types of Commuter Choice accounts, parking and transit. You can enroll in one or both accounts—simply decide how much money you need for work-related mass transit or parking expenses each month. The monthly pre-tax maximum election is $265 for each account. The amount within this maximum will be deducted from your paycheck each pay period, prior to Federal, State and FICA taxes being calculated. Your monthly election amount will continue throughout the plan year unless you decide to reduce, increase or stop your election. You pay less in taxes so you save money.

Parking Account

This account allows you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for work-related parking expenses.

Eligible Expenses

  • Work-related parking costs incurred at or near your worksite
  • Work-related parking costs incurred at or near the place from which you commute to work by any means

Ineligible Expenses

  • Parking at an airport for air travel
  • Parking expenses that are not work-related

Using Your Funds

When you enroll in a Parking Account, you will receive a FLEXEXPRESS card that looks and works like a typical debit card, making the process as easy as possible. There are no up-front payments, and charges are automatically deducted from your Parking Account balance.

If you have used your own funds to pay for parking you have a few options for requesting reimbursement:

  • Download the Benefit Strategies app on your iPhone, Android and tablet devices and file for parking reimbursement.
  • Log in to account at the Benstrat website and look for the link to file a claim.
    • If you have a receipt, you can scan and save it and then browse to upload it through the website.
    • If you don’t have a receipt, you will need to provide the following information: the month in which you parked; the name of the parking provider; the total amount to be reimbursed.
  • Complete the Parking Benefit Plan Reimbursement Request Form. You can find this on the Benstrat website or by calling 1-888-401-FLEX (3539) to have one sent to you.

Transit Account

This account allows you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for expenses incurred traveling to and from work. A transit pass is any pass, token, fare card, voucher or similar item entitling a person to mass transit transportation.

Eligible Expenses

  • Work-related mass transit expenses, such as:
    • Bus
    • Light or regional rail
    • Streetcar
    • Trolley
    • Subway
    • Ferry
  • UberPOOL, Lyft Line, Vanpool

Ineligible Expenses

  • Mileage and tolls
  • Taxis and limousines

Using Your Funds

When you enroll in the Transit Account, you will receive a FLEXEXPRESS card that looks and works like a typical debit card, making the process as easy as possible. You use the card to purchase a mass transit pass that best suits your needs and the amount will be deducted from your Transit Account.

For example, if you will only be using mass transit for a portion of the month due to vacation, you can choose to purchase a pass option other than a monthly pass. You also choose when to purchase your pass. As long as you have sufficient funds in your Transit Account, you can purchase a pass at any point in the month. Your card can be used at transit vendors, including online transit vendors.

Note: No reimbursement requests can be submitted for Transit Accounts. Participants must use their debit card.

Accessing Your Commuter Choice Accounts

  • Online—You will be sent information regarding your secure online portal. There you can file for parking reimbursement, set up text message alerts, and view claims history, account balances, filing deadlines and more.
  • Mobile App—Download our Benefit Strategies app on your iPhone, Android and tablet devices.

How to Enroll

Eligible employees may enroll in Commuter Choice Parking and Transit Accounts by enrolling online through Employee Self Service. Employees can enroll in one or both accounts and are able to reduce, increase or stop their election at any point during the plan year.

Contact Us

The automated system is available at all times by calling 1-888-401-FLEX (3539). Language translators are also available. You can also visit the Benstrat website to chat with an online representative or email info@benstrat.com to learn more.

 
Revised October 13, 2019         

 

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