Some European countries have introduced tax breaks for cycling to work or extended existing ones during the last months: France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy. This shows that the idea of rewarding sustainable commuting behaviour through fiscal incentives is gaining ground throughout the continent.
In Belgium, which had introduced a reimbursement scheme based on the kilometres cycled to and from work already in 1999, the amount of the tax-free reimbursement has recently been raised to €0.23 per kilometre. The number of employees benefiting from this scheme has increased substantially during the last years, by 30% between 2011 and 2015 alone. This means that over 400,000 Belgians, or 9% of the country’s workforce, now receive a cycling reimbursement. Together, they cycled more than 420 million kilometres in 2015, creating important benefits in terms of public health, air quality, CO2 emissions reductions and congestion relief.
In 2015, France introduced a kilometric reimbursement scheme similar to the Belgian model, however, with severe restrictions concerning the maximum yearly tax-free amount. According to French sources, a decree is currently under preparation for public bodies to pay this cycling reimbursement to their employees. The tax-free payment would also be limited to € 200 per year and employee, which makes the scheme far less attractive than its Belgian counterpart. French cycling organisations, amongst which continue to advocate for abolishing the yearly limit and making the reimbursement scheme obligatory for all employers.