Tax free rides in Qld

Queensland to introduce tax-free bus travel with funds allocated by employers

Eligible bus commuters in South East Queensland will soon be able to salary sacrifice their travel to and from work, the Queensland Government announced recently.

Travel funds will be sourced from pre-tax income and automatically deposited into a special account by employers.

A new TransLink Bus Travel Benefit Card will be given to employees under the scheme, which will allow regular bus commuters to save hundreds of dollars a year.

"This is the first time in Australian history a dedicated smartcard will be made available for eligible employees to use to salary package their travel to and from work by bus," Queensland minister for transport Stirling Hinchliffe says.

"Salary sacrificing is something thousands of Australians are already benefiting from in salary packaging schemes, but with this new scheme eligible Queenslanders will be able to significantly save a lot on their annual bus travel to work."

The initiative is aimed at encouraging more employees to choose public transport in Queensland and Hinchliffe is calling on the Federal Government to extend tax concessions for public transport users.

"This is a fantastic initiative, but I urge the Australian Government to extend this benefit to employees who travel on rail, tram or by ferry.

"The tax ruling should be expanded, because many commuters use more than one mode of public transport for their journey and all eligible users should benefit from the scheme.

"Federal tax rules allow employees to salary-package a car, and if we’re serious about encouraging more people to choose public transport, trains, trams and ferries must be part of the tax ruling."

The Bus Travel Benefit Card will be just like the standard Go Card, but linked to a special employee account for use on bus travel between home and work.

The benefit applies to bus travel only and will be available in Queensland via private sector employers and salary packaging providers who have gained a ruling from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The Queensland Government is confident the initiative will help bus travellers maximise their income, which should help the local economy and boost patronage on Queensland buses.

The card is being tested now and will be launched in the second half of this year.

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