Bikes get same status as company cars
German firms which offer their staff company bikes can now write off the tax just as they do with cars, after the authorities changed the regulations, potentially creating a whole new commuting culture.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported this week on a firm near Munich which has started to offer its workers electric bicycles for the five kilometres between the office and the nearest train station - apparently a nice ride through the woods.
Around 80 percent of the 300 of the staff at Eos come to work in cars, something the company wanted to change by leasing electric bicycles which its workers could use like company cars - paying a little to use it privately as well. As well as being keen to improve its workers' health and do its bit for the environment, Eon was keen to free up space in its car park.
Yet the idea with the leased bikes became stuck on questions of the leasing contract and tax questions for the workers. Only now will it start, after the German tax authorities decided to treat company bikes the same way as company cars.
This means that if a worker gets a bike from their employer, they only have to pay tax on one percent of the bike's value in order to cover private cycling, the paper said.
The bike manufacturing association ZIV expects 400,000 electric bikes to be sold in 2012, twice as many as two years ago - and sees them increasingly in cities where traffic congestion is becoming a problem.
The German cycling association ADFC said the new regulation was a positive one. "That is practical and simple - the full taxation was unfair," said Roland Huhn, ADFC spokesman.
And Christian Heep from the federal association of electric mobility, said the tax regulation was, "an attractive signal to promote alternative transport possibilities." He said he was confident that it would, "clearly increase the attraction of using bikes in companies, administrations and organisations."