We all know that there are personal benefits to web working. But there are societal benefits too: less commuter pollution, less stress on families when parents can stay home with the kids, fewer people crammed into the inner cities every day. That’s why some countries, like Japan, have offered tax incentives to employers who institute telework programs. If a bill recently introduced into the US Congress passes, the United States could join the ranks of countries with tax-supported telecommuters.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) recently introduced the Parents’ Tax Relief Act of 2007 to Congress. Though the name might not make you look twice, there are three provisions of interest to telecommuters buried in the bill:
- A vastly simplified flat rate home office deduction ($2500 or the profit from your home-based business, whichever is lower), replacing the current complex prorated system that requires exclusive use of part of the home.
- A telecommuting tax credit that gives employers up to $2400 credit for each employee who starts telecommuting during the year.
- An exclusion from employee income of employer-provided telecommuting equipment including computers and broadband access equipment, making such equipment a tax-free fringe benefit.
All in all, it looks like this bill could save some fairly substantial tax dollars for the home business owner or telecommuter. That’s the good news.
The bad news? If you cast your mind back to high school civics, you’ll recall that most bills in Congress never go anywhere, and indeed this one went promptly to committee and hasn’t come out yet. It also doesn’t have a whole lot of co-sponsors, so the prospect of it surfacing and passing is fairly low. Still, if every web worker out there were to contact their congressional representatives (you do know who yours are, don’t you?) to urge support for HR1421 (in the House) and S816 (in the Senate), it just might make a difference.