Qualified Commuter Expense Account

The Qualified Commuter Expense Reimbursement Account is similar to the pre-tax health care and dependent day care spending accounts. This program allows you to pay for certain work related commuting expenses with tax-free dollars.

Types of Accounts

The Qualified Commuter Expense Reimbursement Account consists of two types of accounts: the qualified parking expense account and the qualified mass transit expense account. You can choose to participate in one and/or both accounts.

Participation

You may elect a qualified commuter expense reimbursement account during the Annual Open Enrollment. If you do not enroll during open enrollment, you will not be able to enroll until next year’s open enrollment unless you experience a qualified change in status.

Contributions

Contributions to a commuter expense flexible spending account are deducted from an employee’s payroll on a per pay basis.

Reimbursement Account Minimum Maximum
Parking $25 per month $265 per month*
Mass Transit $25 per month $265 per month*

Note: The annual maximum for each plan is $3,180.

*Maximum monthly contribution for faculty on a less than annual contract is $397.50 ($3,180.00 annually)

Eligible Expenses

  • Cost of parking in a non-University lot (leases and pay by the day) that is located near your work
  • Cost of parking in a University lot if you pay by the day (i.e. do not have a University lease)
  • Cost of parking that is located on or near a location from which you commute to work using mass transportation or a vanpool
  • Vanpool fuel costs are reimbursable if they are paid as a separate expense

Non-covered Expenses

  • Tunnel, bridge, or highway tolls (EZ Pass)
  • Fuel, mileage or other costs incurred to operate a personal vehicle or taxi
  • Non-work related transportation or parking expenses
  • Expenses incurred in traveling from your office to business or client meetings
  • Transit or parking expenses of your spouse and dependents

Reimbursement

For information on submitting claims for reimbursement, please see our Flexible Spending Account Reimbursement page.

Unused Funds

Unclaimed contributions will roll over from month to month, but not plan year to plan year. This means that any portion of your monthly contribution to the Commuter Expense Account that is not reimbursed during a particular month will roll over to subsequent months until you submit an eligible claim during the current plan year.

For example, if you elect to contribute $125 for parking and only incur $100 of eligible expenses in January, the remaining $25 will roll over to the following months until you submit an eligible claim for it.

However claims do not roll over from month to month. If you elect $125 a month for parking and incur and submit $150 in eligible claims in January, you will only be reimbursed $125. If you incur only $100 in eligible claims in February, you could not use the remaining $25 for January's claim. The $25 would roll over to the following month within the plan year.

Use It or Lose It - Commuter

FSAs must comply with federal law. Careful planning is required. The “use it or lose it” provision applies to Commuter FSAs, meaning what is not used for services and expenses incurred during a Plan Year and not claimed within six months of the date of the claim, are forfeited and remain in trust to be used only for operating costs of the FSA program.

Note: STATUS OF UNUSED FUNDS IF INCOMPLETE PARTICIPATION IN PLAN YEAR

Expenses during the Plan Year are not eligible if incurred after termination, suspension or for a leave, or cancellation for a family status change. If unused funds and expenses are incurred after such an event, post-employment or post-participation access is available through continuation of the account on an after tax basis under COBRA. Termination of employment is distinguished from suspension for a leave, family status change, or other employment circumstance for which other make-up contributions may be made to activate participation to access funds.

Effective July 1, 2013, parking claims must be submitted within SIX MONTHS (180 days) of the date of the claim. For example, a parking receipt dated January 1 must be submitted by July 1. A parking receipt dated March 1 must be submitted by September 1. Parking claims submitted beyond the six month window will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Important Information about Claims

  • Claims are submitted on a monthly basis and will be paid after the expense is incurred (meaning a Plan Participant has been provided services that gives rise to an expense, not when a Plan Participant is billed, charged for or pays for services (ex. you pay for your July lease on July 1 and submit the claim on July 5; you will not receive reimbursement until August because the service must be incurred first).
  • There is a $25 minimum reimbursement for both the parking and mass transit accounts. There is a $240 maximum for the parking and $125 for the mass transit accounts.
  • Claims which are not supported by appropriate documentation will be returned to you and can be resubmitted with appropriate documentation to be paid at a later date.
  • Parking claims must be submitted within SIX MONTHS of the date of the claim. Parking claims submitted beyond the six month window will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Changes and Cancellations

  • You may cancel the program if you have a qualified change in status. Examples include:
    • Attainment of a University lease
    • Change in mode of transportation (ex. switching from driving a vehicle to taking public transportation). Note: Public transportation expenses are only applicable outside of Allegheny County

Changes to your elections may be made 60 days following a qualified change in status; however changes will only take effect the first of the following month. Changes must be received in the Benefits Office by the last business day of the month prior to the effective date.

Limitations

  • Expenses cannot be reimbursed through another employer provided program. Examples include:
    • University leased parking or University vanpool
    • Expenses related to mass transit provided by the Port Authority with Allegheny County
  • Expenses must be incurred by you during the Plan Year
  • Expenses must be incurred while you are a participant in the Program
  • Reimbursements cannot be paid unless your account is credited with enough contributions applicable to the time you incurred your expense.