Right now the federal government allows companies to provide up to $255 in parking benefits a month tax‐free to employees; a similar amount can be provided tax‐free to people who take mass transit. The proposal being considered would have companies give a similar sum to people who walk or bike to work. Since there’s no federal tax break for these activities, these incentives would, in effect, be cash payments to simply say “thank you for walking.”
Here’s a general rule: If we subsidize everything, we are effectively subsidizing nothing. It is of course true that the federal government should not be giving tax breaks for parking: In general, in‐kind compensation should never be incentivized over cash compensation (look at the mess that the tax break for employer‐provided health insurance created) but this is especially true for an activity that has no salutary benefit for society at all. Like driving to work.
Mass transit is already subsidized in the U.S., so additional tax subsidies don’t make a whole lot of sense either—unless we look at it in the context that we are already giving a tax break for parking.