The omnibus spending bill that President Obama signed Dec. 18 did more than fund the federal government for 2016 and delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax.” The massive legislation—it’s both a tax bill and an appropriations bill—addresses hundreds of measures affected by the federal budget. Among those with HR implications:
• Beginning this year, employers can offer mass-transit passes or van pool vouchers worth up to $255 per month, an increase from the previous $130 per month. Employers can book a tax exclusion themselves by subsidizing employee commuting costs up to that amount or let employees buy passes using pretax dollars. The $255 threshold for transit benefits is the same maximum tax exclusion that applies to paid parking benefits. The public transit benefit value had slipped below that of paid parking benefits as an unintended consequence of 2014 federal budget negotiations.
• The budget bill makes permanent an employer tax credit for differential compensation employers may pay to employees who have been called to active military duty.
• The bill extends for one year federal funding for E-Verify, the electronic employment eligibility verification system, which compares a new employee’s I-9 information to Social Security and Department of Homeland Security databases. With immigration emerging as an election-year issue, look for additional legislation this year to provide long-term E-Verify funding.