6-person Uber vehicles and riders using program for transit, allows skipping taxes on commutes

UberPool vehicles must be able to accommodate six passengers to qualify for pretax benefits, says WageWorks.

Uber Technologies Inc. is expanding a partnership with WageWorks Inc. that allows users of the ride-sharing giant’s UberPool service to pay for commutes to and from work with pretax funds, bringing the benefit to several cities across the U.S.

The program will extend to areas including San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and Denver, according to a statement Tuesday from WageWorks, which administers consumer-directed benefits plans. The companies began testing the partnership in New York in August.

To qualify for transit benefits, an UberPool vehicle must be able to seat six passengers in addition to the driver, Dan Neuburger, president of WageWorks Commuter Services, wrote in an e-mail. “There has been no definitive ruling on this, but we believe it fits into the definition of transit,” he wrote.

The program will be open to employees with WageWorks commuter-benefits accounts. Such plans traditionally allow people to avoid paying some taxes if they bike, ride public transportation or need to park their car.

By seeking to lure more commuters, San Francisco-based Uber is building on efforts to become a normal way for people to get around. The company’s UberPool product packs several riders into a single car, running complicated calculations to drive the most efficient routes. It costs users much less than a normal Uber ride or a taxi, and fares in some cities can be competitive with buses or trains.

“WageWorks is always looking for new ways to broaden the use of pretax commuter benefits in order to improve convenience and save people more money on their commute,” Neuburger said in a statement. “Adding more cities to our UberPool offering does just that.”

The benefits plan is available to UberPool users in New York, Boston and Washington starting Tuesday, and in areas including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and New Jersey on Wednesday. More cities will follow, WageWorks said.