The Telecommuter Assistance Act

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Act XIX of Energize America

Objective

1) To provide incentives for companies to encourage employees to work from home part- or full-time, thus reducing the need for home-to-work commutes.

Description

May job positions, or a high proportion of tasks in many jobs, require no more than access to a computer and a phone and thus the location of the employee is irrelevant to its performance. If only a fraction of jobs now concentrated in city centers or business areas were moved to workers’ homes, it would significantly reduce the number of trips made between home and work, the corresponding fuel consumption and gridlock.

The Telecommuter Assistance Act will establish a tax credit for companies that use telecommuting to reduce employee travel. The maximum credit will be set at $2,000 per year for a full-time employee who telecommutes five days a week. This will be pro-rated on a $400-a-day basis for employees averaging fewer than five days a week telecommuting. To receive the credit, companies must agree not to outsource the credited position to an overseas firm for a period of at least five years. In addition, the act will impose a return to older, more relaxed IRS rules to allow telecommuting workers to claim a portion of their house as an office for income-tax purposes. Funds invested to provide employees with a computer and network connection at home will benefit from favorable depreciation rules for tax purposes. Benefits By 2020, an estimated five million full time job equivalents will have switched to telecommuting, with fuel savings would amount to 200,000 barrels per day of oil (or $4 billion at current prices). Companies would also benefit from lower office-rental requirements, and all Americans would benefit from less gridlock.

Investment

The Telecommuter Assistance Act is estimated to cost $5 billion per year on average through 2020.

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