'People Are Angry' About Slashed Tax Break, Congressional Candidate Dunec Says

Democratic Congressional candidate for the 11th District Mark Dunec campaigned at Richard Codey Arena on Friday.

Democratic Congressional Candidate Mark Dunec speaks with commuters as they board Coach buses outside Richard Codey Arena today. Photo Courtesy of Jake Zychick.
Democratic Congressional Candidate Mark Dunec speaks with commuters as they board Coach buses outside Richard Codey Arena today. Photo Courtesy of Jake Zychick.

Written by Melinda Stevens. 

Mark Dunec, a Democratic Congressional candidate from Livingston, says "people are angry" over a lost tax break for commuters, and he's angry, too. 

“At least 15 people spoke about the tax break for commuters and how it was reduced recently,” Dunec said as he campaigned outside Richard Codey Arena in West Orange Friday.

“People are angry.”

Dunec, a business executive, is running for Congress in the 11th Congressional District, which is currently held by longtime representative Rodney Frelinghuysen. 

“I was at the Codey Arena this morning meeting people at the bus stop as they were boarding the Coach buses and listening to concerns,” Dunec said. “It was good.”

Congress did not extend a 5-year-old public transportation tax benefit this year establishing parity for commuters using mass transit and those commuters who drive to work and pay to park in a garage, according to a report from NJ.com. Mass transit commuters now get $130 a month in tax breaks down from $245, the latter which is the same as individuals who drove and parked in garages.

The monthly tax break is significant, said Dunec, which amounts to putting nearly $1,400 back in a commuter's pocket every year. 

“These people are paying big money to go on the community Coach Bus and the tax break saved a meaningful amount of money.”

Dunec said he wants to reinstate the tax break to its former level.  

“The federal government put the tax break into place to encourage people to take mass transit to help the environment,” Dunec said. “This effects whoever is taking mass transit anywhere. By reducing that tax break, the commuters are losing a lot of money in the end.”

After questioning voters, Dunec said they shared with him a great concern over the economy.

“It is predominantly the economy that people are worried about,” Dunec said. “They are concerned about the government shutdown and the economy as a whole.”

WALTER LeVINE January 11, 2014 at 02:46 PM
I am not a commuter, but it seems this presents a two-fold problem: (1) The commuting costs of drivers are greater than tose using mass transit, so the subsidy differential seems appropriate and (2) any subsidy (like a preferred tax break) has differentials between types of taxpayers, so lessening a deduction that non-commuters would not be entitled to, seems to equalize the playing field, in that the non-commuters would not have to pay more taxes to offset the higher cost - less tax collection. Isn't like the tax impact differential between homeowners who can deduct real property taxes and renters who get no deduction?


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