About Ventra Transit Benefits
The Ventra Transit Benefits Program is a great way to extend a money-saving benefit to your employees. Employees who participate in the Ventra Transit Benefit Program don’t have to pay income taxes on the pre-tax income they set aside for their commute – up to $270 per month. And they can only get this benefit if you sign up as an employer today. It’s easy – just fill out this form!
Employer Frequently Asked Questions
What is Transit Benefits?
The IRS created a program to extend tax-free benefits to assist with employee’s commuting costs.
Here in Chicago, employers can offer the Ventra Transit Benefits Program which allows their employees to pay for their transit rides using pre-tax dollars on CTA, Metra and Pace.
This program is based on a federal tax law designed to encourage the use of public transit. An amendment enacted under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) expanded the definition of the Qualified Transportation Fringe provision of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 132(f).
How does the Ventra Transit Benefits Program Work?
When you sign up, employees may designate a portion of their pre-tax income to pay for transit. Then you, as the employer, will withhold this amount from the employee's paycheck on a pre-tax basis. Ventra will execute an ACH pull from the employer monthly based on the requested loads.
Many employers choose to subsidize employee's use of transit. In this case, there is no pre-tax deduction from employees. However, Ventra will still execute a monthly ACH pull for the requested loads.
So, each month between the 5th and 20th (the Load Window) you will be able to add new employees or make changes to your employees reload amounts. The monthly loads will be placed in your employees Ventra Accounts before the end of the month for the following month's benefit period.
How many employees do I need to sign up for Ventra Transit Benefits?
There is no minimum. Your company can sign up for transit benefits with just one employee.
My employees use CTA, Pace and Metra. Can Ventra pre-tax transit benefits help all of them?
Yes! Employees can use Ventra to pay fares on CTA and Pace, and Metra riders can download the Ventra App to purchase Metra Monthly Tickets.
Each month the employee’s deduction will be loaded into their Ventra Account to use on CTA and Pace, or to purchase their Metra mobile tickets – no more trips to ticket windows or vending machines! The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.
What are the current montly tax-free allowable limits?
With Ventra Transit Benefits, employees can set aside up to $270 a month for transit/commuting use.
What’s the difference between an employer subsidy and a pre-tax deduction?
An employer subsidy is an employer-paid benefit, whereas a pre-tax deduction is a payroll deduction made by employees. Transit benefits can be offered as either a subsidy, pre-tax payroll deduction or a combination of both.
Due to the tax advantages, offering the benefit as a subsidy is more cost effective when employers are considering giving an employee the equivalent raise in salary. A subsidy may save the employer on payroll taxes and the employee on having to pay additional taxes on a higher income. Pre-tax deductions must be tracked via your payroll system.
Even if your company offers a transit subsidy, your employees may still benefit from a pre-tax deduction. You can do either a subsidy or a pre-tax deduction, or a combination of the two, through the Ventra Transit Benefits Program. Just select the load amount for each employee and submit.
Can my employees get their benefits automatically each month?
Yes, employees can set up a recurring reorder of either transit value or CTA and Pace 30-Day Passes. Employees just need to set up their monthly deduction and Ventra handles the rest. The only time you would need to log back in is to make a change to or suspend their withholding.
Do I need to keep detailed tax records?
No. Unlike Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), no complex record keeping is required for commuter benefits. There is no special IRS reporting, such as W-2 or 1099 statements.
Do I have to wait for open enrollment to sign up for Ventra Transit Benefits or make changes?
No! Employers can sign up for the Ventra Transit Benefits Program at any time and employees can make changes to their withholding at any time of the year. Changes made during the monthly Load Window (5th through 20th) will go into effect the next month.
How long would it take to set up my company’s own Ventra Transit Benefit program?
Please allow 7-10 business days for your request to be processed and funding source to be confirmed. New accounts are typically ready to be used the following month.
Can employees redeem transit benefits for cash?
No. Under the Ventra Transit Benefits Program refunds are only credited back the employer and only if the employee moves out-of-state.
We're here for you!
If you are an employer who would like more information or have any questions about the Ventra Transit Benefits Program, contact us at: