Wolf Bill To Provide $500 Tax Credit For Telework
Washington, D.C. — Hoping to encourage more people to work at home at least one day a week via computer, fax machine and telephone, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today introduced legislation providing a $500 tax credit to either individuals who telework or to their employers.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“With the advances that have been made in computer technology in just the last five years, there is no reason more people–including federal employees–shouldn’t be teleworking,” Wolf said. “There is nothing magical about strapping ourselves into a car, driving sometimes up to an hour and a half to an office, only to sit in front of a computer terminal. Much of the information we access on our computer at work we can access at home in our living rooms.
“Instead of sitting in traffic every night wouldn’t you rather be home with your family or coaching Little League or singing in the church choir?” Wolf continued. “The benefits of teleworking are enormous. It is good for families because working parents can spend more time at home instead of driving back and forth to work. It reduces traffic congestion. It increases worker productivity. It cuts down on gas consumption. It helps reduce air pollution. The goal of the tax credit is to provide another incentive for individuals–and their employers–to consider teleworking.”
Wolf’s bill would provide a tax credit for expenses paid or incurred to set up a work station in an individual’s home. The cost of a computer, modem, software, fax machine and other office equipment would all apply toward the credit. The credit goes to whomever absorbs the cost of setting up an at-home worksite: employee or employer. An individual must work at home a minimum of 75 days a year to be eligible for the tax credit.
Wolf has been a leading advocate of telework in Congress. In 1999, he pushed for the creation of a pilot program that would give companies pollution credits if they let their employees work from home. The companies would be free to buy and sell the credits on the commodities exchange. The program is patterned after a national credit trading program established in 1995 to cut acid rain emissions. That effort has helped cut such pollution by coal burning utility plants in the nation’s midwest and east by 40 percent.
There are five metropolitan regions in the pilot program: Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and Denver. The program in the Washington area should be up and running this spring, according to Wolf. He expects at least 10 major companies in the area to participate.
Last year, Wolf inserted language in the annual transportation spending bill requiring federal agencies to identify employees whose jobs would be appropriate for a telework situation one or more days each week. By the end of this year, each federal agency is to offer the option of teleworking to 25 percent of these eligible employees and to continue offering the option to 25 percent more for each of the next three years.
Wolf believes that teleworking is a critical piece of the puzzle in solving the Washington metropolitan region’s traffic problems.
According to a recent George Mason University study, for every 1 percent of the Washington metropolitan region workforce that teleworks, there is a 3 percent reduction in traffic delays.
“Telework is the information age’s answer to reducing traffic congestion,” Wolf said. “It is simple. The more people who telework, the fewer cars on our highways. It is a win-win situation all the way around.”