Faculty Notes

Prof. Linda Galler Quoted in Newsday Article on LIRR Riders Seeking Unused Funds

Linda Galler, Professor of Law

Long Island Rail Road Riders Want Their Money Earmarked for Commutes
By Alfonso A. Castillo
June 7, 2020


Long Island Rail Road customers who don’t expect to return to their workplaces anytime soon — if ever — are frustrated over federal regulations keeping them from recouping hundreds of dollars in wages earmarked for commutes they are no longer making.

Elected officials said they’re pushing for changes in Internal Revenue Service regulations that prohibit refunds from pretaxed commuting accounts, but several LIRR riders insist they could use the funds right away — especially those who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Linda Galler, a tax law professor at Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law, said the rigidity of the IRS’ policy may have to do with the government looking to dissuade people from “sort of popping in and out” of pretax benefit programs, and also with the complexities of retroactively calculating taxes on the earned wages that would be refunded.

“The problem is that the law says what the law says,” said Galler, who believes addressing the problem would require a Congressional act, or the IRS making an emergency exception to its regulations. “The practical advice for somebody would be, ahead of time — if you still have your job — to stop your employer from pulling that money out … going forward. That doesn’t help you with the money that’s in the account already.”

Read the full article on the Newsday website.

About the author

Melissa Kessler

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