Tax-cut package includes commuter benefit for feds
Federal workers may not like next year's planned pay freeze, but are likely to still be eligible for a $230 monthly transit benefit
The perk is part of $858 billion tax-cut package approved Wednesday by the Senate and set for passage in the House later today.
Workers -- including federal employees -- who use public transportation to and from work are eligible for the benefit, which was set to revert back to $120 per month in January if Congress didn't act.
"Retention of the higher amount is an important gain for working men and women," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents more than 150,000 federal workers.
Despite the transit benefit, some federal retirees will not like other elements of the package that grant a 2 percent tax cut to workers covered under Social Security. The tax break will apply to federal employees who are part of the Federal Employees Retirement System, but not those covered by the older Civil Service Retirement System, because they are not covered by Social Security.
As colleague Joe Davidson wrote Monday, that means about 426,000 federal workers covered by CSRS would pay more in taxes next year, while most Americans pay less.
Excluding CSRS members is "unfair," Kelley said. She and others want lawmakers to reduce withholdings by an additional 2 percent from the wages of workers who don't pay into Social Security, or to give them a 2 percent credit on federal income taxes.
But with the tax deal likely headed for final passage, such a change seems unlikely.
Is that fair or unfair for feds? Good or bad? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
U.S. BORDER PATROL:
• Border agent killed in Arizona: A late-night shootout left one agent dead and four of the gunmen in custody, and authorities said they were searching Wednesday for one man who got away.
• Nearly 17% of Americans suffer food poisoning each year, study shows: The numbers mark the first time the federal government has updated the estimates for foodborne illnesses since 1999.
• Webb bill to help Marine widow set to become law: Since Marine Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr.'s death in 2008, his widow has been trying to immigrate to the United States to join her slain husband's family in Tennessee, but was stymied by a quirk in immigration laws.
• More sex assaults reported at military academies: Reported sexual assaults at the three U.S. military academies rose 64 percent in the 2009-10 academic year compared with the previous year.
• FDA cracks down on illegal supplements: The agency says some manufacturers are deceptively labeling products to hide that they contain ingredients known to cause adverse health effects.
• IRS audits jump by 11 percent; wealthiest targeted: The IRS also stepped up audits of charities and other tax-exempt organizations.
• Govt sues BP, 8 other companies in Gulf oil spill: The Obama administration's lawsuit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources.
• Smithsonian names Pierre Huyghe 2010 Contemporary Artist: He's the ninth winner of the $25,000 award, which recognizes an artist younger than 50 who has produced a significant body of work and consistently demonstrates exceptional creativity.
| December 16, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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