Expensive commuting: Is it worth switching to a company bike?

Cycling is a hot topic - and fueled by high fuel prices.

Expensive commuting: Is it worth switching to a company bike?

Cycling is a hot topic - and fueled by high fuel prices. The way to and from work is also increasingly becoming a route for the bike. A company bike must be worthwhile. Or?

In times of high gas prices, the daily commute to work can be expensive. Some are thinking about getting on the company bike for the route in the future. But what is it actually and for whom is it really worth it? The most important answers at a glance.

What is a service bike anyway - and how do I get it?

A company bike is a bicycle, e-bike or cargo bike that the employer gives to an employee. "It can be used both professionally and for commuting as well as privately," says Elena Laidler-Zettelmeyer from the Federal Association of Future Bicycles (BVZF). Those interested should contact their employer.

There are basically two options: On the one hand, there is the widespread company bike leasing, in which employers lease company bikes from a leasing provider and make them available to the employees. On the other hand, a company bike subscription is currently being established, with which customers rent a bike of their choice and pay a monthly rate for it.

How is that financed?

As a rule, the bicycle is financed through salary conversion. In concrete terms, this means: "When leasing a company bike, the employee waives cash wages in the amount of the usage rate and, if applicable, the insurance for the duration of the bike rental," says Daniela Karbe-Gessler from the Taxpayers' Association.

Employees do not have to pay tax on the monthly installments like the rest of their wages. Only private use, the benefit in kind, is taxable at 0.25 percent of the recommended retail price. The employer can contribute to the installments with grants.

If employees receive the company bike in addition to their wages in the form of a salary bonus and the employer bears the costs incurred in full, the non-cash benefit is not taxed. The company bike is therefore free of charge and tax-free for employees.

It usually makes no difference whether it is a bicycle subscription or a leasing offer. "Bicycles on subscription bring the same tax benefits and opportunities as leasing," says Laidler-Zettelmeyer. Here, too, financing through salary conversion - with or without an employer subsidy - or complete assumption of the costs by the employer is possible. Important to know: "In order for a company bike to be recognized for tax purposes, the assignment must be regulated in the employment contract," says Karbe-Gessler.

What is the tax regime for the self-employed and freelancers?

Self-employed and freelancers who also use the company bicycle privately do not have to pay tax on it as a private withdrawal. "With leasing, the monthly installments can be claimed in full as an operating expense," says Karbe-Gessler.

What are the costs for a company bike for employees?

This largely depends on two factors. First, the value of the bike and second, the amount of the subsidy from the employer. Many company bike leasing providers have a calculator on their website that can be used to calculate the individual costs.

Who is it really worth it for?

According to Laidler-Zettelmeyer, leasing a company bike is up to 40 percent cheaper than buying it directly. Employees benefit financially the more, the more the employer contributes to the costs. Here, too, working people can use the calculator on the website of the company bike leasing provider to find out themselves and calculate their advantages. According to Laidler-Zettelmeyer, up to 55 percent of the costs can be saved with the subscription model.

In addition to the financial advantages, there are of course other positive effects - for example for your own fitness or the climate.

What else should you consider from a financial point of view?

A service bike through salary conversion reduces social security contributions because the gross salary is reduced. "Among other things, this has a slight effect on later pension payments," says Laidler-Zettelmeyer. However, the effect is manageable. The financial advantages compared to buying a bike directly would offset the impact on pensions.

By the way: The use of a company bike has no influence on the distance allowance. "Even if you have a business bike, you can add 30 cents per kilometer to commuting every working day and 35 cents from the 21st kilometer in your tax return," says Karbe-Gessler. According to her, it is also possible to use a company bike and a company car at the same time.

Do I currently have any chance of getting a bike?

The supply chains in the bicycle sector are currently not functioning completely smoothly - as in many other industries. In addition, bicycles are currently in high demand. "Not every bike can be delivered immediately at any time," says Laidler-Zettelmeyer. In principle, however, there is no shortage of good, high-quality bicycles.

Are there any sensible alternatives?

As an alternative to a pure company bicycle, the employer can also offer a mobility budget. Here the employees have freedom of choice and can put together an individual offer consisting of a company bike, job ticket, rail card and budget for bike and car sharing.

(This article was first published on Monday, May 23, 2022.)