Should Homeworkers Be Taxed for the Privilege?

From The Guardian:

Employees who continue working from home after the pandemic should be taxed for the privilege, with the proceeds used to help lower-paid workers, according to a new report. Economists at Deutsche Bank have proposed making staff pay a 5% tax for each day they choose to work remotely. They argue it would leave the average employee no worse off because of savings made by not commuting and not buying lunch on-the-go and fewer purchases of work clothing. Alternatively, the report suggests the tax could be paid by employers who do not provide their workforce with a permanent desk.

While I agree that there is a desperate need to rebalance the economy and ensure that essential workers who often cannot work from home are compensated in such a way that recognises how utterly essential their work actually is, it does seem somewhat shortsighted to me that you would penalise people for being productive at home while also being kinder to the planet and not commuting. For one, buying fewer clothes is a good thing for the planet, though I think most people will find other excuses to buy new clothes.

Many office workers do not buy expensive takeaway food every day as the article suggests. Anecdotally, when we were at the office, I noticed a lot of my colleagues used to simply bring in last night’s leftovers in for lunch. Those that do buy lunch every day will likely drive demand in local shops and cafes. Even in lockdown, my local village bakery frequently has people queuing out of the door at lunchtime. All of this is to say that such for some, such a tax could make it more expensive to work from home, especially those who drive to work rather than take more expensive public transport. Do we really want people driving to the office just to save money? Let’s hope governments skip past this one, as there are plenty of other ways to increase tax revenue.

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