I’m trying something new on the blog. If you prefer to listen to this post instead of reading, click below. The whole post is under 3 minutes.
There are two types of workers in this country: Those who can work from home and those who cannot.
Those who can have grown more comfortable with working from home the longer the pandemic has gone on. In April, 10% of people surveyed said they would work from home two days a week. That number climbed to 35% in September.
Remote working is a luxury not afforded to everybody, and therefore should be taxed as such, according to a provocative new research report from Deutsche Bank called What We Must Do to Rebuild.
They argue that “Remote workers are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits.”
I suppose that’s true in some instances. For example, I’m no longer riding the Long Island Railroad. But I’m contributing in other ways. I got a red-light traffic ticket the other day during a time when I’m generally in the city. I’m not sure the two cancel out, but you see where I’m going with this.
You might be steaming mad just hearing this idea. “Why should I have to pay taxes when the government closed the economy?!” This tax will only apply if you choose to work from home. “But I’m self-employed. I’ve always worked from home!” You won’t pay this tax. “I work from home, but I’m a low-income earner!” You also won’t pay this tax.
So then who is paying the tax? Everybody else who chooses to work from home.
Who covers the tax? The employer if they do not provide a worker with a permanent desk. If you’re living in an apartment and can’t fit a desk, then your employer would be on the hook. I have no idea how the IRS monitors this.
So how does the tax work?
Deutsche Bank suggested a tax of 5%, which they say “is roughly the amount an office worker might spend on commuting, lunch, and laundry etc. A tax at this rate, then, will leave them no worse off than if they had chosen to go into the office.”
What if you work from home part-time? Their idea is that this tax is only paid only on days that you work from home. Again, I have no idea how they enforce this. Honor system?
What will all of this do in terms of raising revenue? They estimate it will bring in $48 billion. What will it do to
balance the budget reduce the deficit? Hahahaha.
Income inequality is a real thing, and I’m all for solutions to make a dent in it, but this does not seem like an answer.
First of all, not everybody who works from home has a high income. Second of all, the $48 billion of tax revenue will not be funneled directly into the pockets of less fortunate people. Lastly, there has to be the political will to pass something like this, and given the state of our elected officials, I don’t think workers should be worried about a work from home tax any time soon.