From Catoe's online chat Nov. 6:
Arlington, VA: Good afternoon - I have a question regarding the upcoming changes to SmartBenefits. Do we know yet what will happen to the current balances on our SmarTrip cards? For instance, if I have a $100 balance on the card beginning Jan 1, what "purse" will that money go into?Thank you!
Reply: Hi Arlington. I see a few questions about SmartBenefits here in the queue. Over the past couple of weeks, we have heard a lot of comments from customers about this change in SmartBenefits. I've decided that we need to rethink the changes that we are making. At this point I do not have any new details to share. I hope to be able to provide more detail about the program in the coming weeks that will be able to clarify these sorts of questions. Rest assured, I have heard what people have to say and your comments will be taken into account as we develop the plan moving forward.--
Metro is making some big changes to SmarTrip (correction SmartBenefits) in 2010.
First, your monthly benefit will be added at the faregate, bus farebox or parking target.
Second, money on your card will be divided into "purses" or sections, one for transit, one for parking and one for personal money you may use to supplement your benefit.
Third, your monthly benefit will no longer roll over, but any remaining balance will be sent back to your employer. Obviously, this wouldn't happen to money in your personal "purse."
According to Metro, the changes are being made to "comply with IRS mandates to better control the allocation of transit and parking benefits."
With this new change, any funds, whether it be employer benefit or employee pre-tax dollars that are left at the end of the month will be returned to the EMPLOYER. It is then the employers option on what to do with this money. It is extremely important for employees who contribute pre-tax dollars to their benefit to ensure they are not giving too much, as well as to discuss with their employer what happens with any returned funds.