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Telecommute Tax Relief Gathers Steam 339

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the double-whammie dept.
coondoggie writes to tell us NetworkWorld is reporting that backers of new telecommuter friendly tax legislation have high hopes that this might be the year that it sticks. From the article: " If passed, the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act would prevent states from taxing income that nonresidents who telecommute to an in-state employer earn while working from home. The legislation is aimed in particular at New York, which is legendary for its stance on nonresident teleworkers. It requires those who sometimes work in the office of their New York employers to pay state taxes -- not only on the income they earn while physically in New York, but also on the income they earn at home. This often results in a double tax when the telecommuter's home state expects tax on the income the telecommuter earns at home."
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Telecommute Tax Relief Gathers Steam

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  • It'll never pass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jason1729 (561790) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:11PM (#15389278)
    This legislation is aimed to help average workers. There's little benefit for big business or legislators. It will never pass.
  • by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:12PM (#15389284) Journal
    This is only fair, if you aren't using the infrastructure of the city you shouldn't have to pay for it.
  • Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlashChick (544252) * <ericaNO@SPAMerica.biz> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:14PM (#15389304) Homepage Journal
    From the article: "The U.S. Office of Personnel Management encouraged federal agencies to more aggressively promote fuel-consuming options such as teleworking in a September memo."

    Darn that Bush. I always knew he was conspiring with the oil companies! ;)
  • by chadliness (965871) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:19PM (#15389338)
    People being double charged for state taxes is a larger problem then just telecommuters. Many people who live close to a state line and work in another state end up double paying. Sometimes there are forms which can be used to avoid this but they are not widely publicised.
  • Call me cynical... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:19PM (#15389341)
    Hmm, a piece of legislation that could improve the lives of citizens? I wonder what sort of soul-sucking privacy-invading large-state-entitlement riders will be attached to the final bill.
  • by dkoulomzin (320266) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:28PM (#15389411)
    Well the parent is TOTAL flame bait, but it does also need to be answered. So here's my non-flame reply.

    Businesses choose NYC for lots of reasons, some of which are:
    1) Lots of other businesses are there. That makes doing business more efficient, since most of it is done face to face.
    2) NYSE, and other cornerstones of the financial world are located in NYC
    3) Vast numbers of people to employ
    4) Several world-class Universities are located in NYC or its environs, so there is no shortage of brain-power

    All of these things in one way or another rely on taxes, be it for transportation or other infrastructure.

    And btw, if you are employed by a company in NYC, you are taking advantage of NYC, even if you never go there. The fact is without NYC, that particular job wouldn't exist.

    No, I'm not a New Yorker. I live in Boston.
  • Re:Free Lunch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:35PM (#15389458) Homepage Journal
    How should NYC pay for the costs of legislating, policing, and judging the protections of the workers while they're telecommunting to NYC businesses? Or any of the other municipal/state costs that keep NYC such a great place to work, even virtually?

    I can't tell whether or not you're joking.

    I'm sorry, but if I'm telecommuting into an "office" in NYC, I'm using zero services from the City of New York, that are not already being paid for by my employer there.

    If I keel over at my desk onto my "virtual office," NYC isn't going to pay for the ambulance to come pick me up. When I flush the toilet, it's not NYC's sewage system that the waste is going to go into. The only reason I'm commuting to NYC at all is because there are (presumably) other people there that I want to communicate with -- after all, "telecommuting" is just a fancy word for communicate -- and those people pay taxes. So NYC is still getting their cut for the value they're providing.

    This whole argument is ridiculous. What happens if a person in New York and a person in Des Moines have a discussion over a forum or Wiki, that's on a server in a colo in San Francisco. Should both people pay tax in SF? They're "working" there (they may not know it), aren't they? Oh wait, SF has already been paid -- by the company that runs the colo facility. Likewise, if I "telecommute" into NYC, whoever I'm commuting in to see is paying taxes.

    New York City isn't doing anything to make itself a "great place to work virtually," they just happen to have a lot of people living there. Those people live there and pay taxes, but there's no reason why people not physically residing there should.

    Your argument fails to make any sense.

    In my mind, the problem here is why companies that have telecommuting employees insist on keeping them based, on paper, in NYC. If the guy works form his house in Jersey, put that down as his work location. If he works from the North Pole, put that down on his W-2. I've done remote-work jobs, and I've never used the location I'm calling-in to as my work location: I use whatever piece of ground I'm sitting on while I'm doing the work.

    Computer do a lot of things, but they do not allow you to physically be in two places at the same time. All of this "tele-work" stuff just confuses the issue, which is inherently just a person sitting somewhere, in front of a computer and a telephone, talking to some other people, in a different place. There's no reason why this should be difficult to figure out.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:35PM (#15389459) Journal
    "What if my local employer opens a branch office in NYC. Do I owe NY taxes then, even though I don't work there? What if I do some remote administration for that office? What if they're connected via VPN and I occasionally browse fileservers on their LAN? At what point do I cross the line where they mistakenly think I should pay them something?"

    If you never work from the NY office, you're not a NY employee. Remote admin doesn't apply, you have to be phyisically present at NY base of operations for your job (not necessarily your company's base of operations) on a regular basis to be considered a NY employee subject to NY taxes.
  • by Jamil Karim (931849) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:54PM (#15389585)
    Never underestimate the power of an election year. It just might pass.
  • by z0ot (598478) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:58PM (#15389616)
    Note that New York State is more than just New York City. The truth is that upstate many high-quality jobs *are* moving to other states due to high taxation, usually in areas where the loss of such jobs can further cripple an already devastated local economy.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @05:01PM (#15389636) Journal
    Once again, this is one of many obnoxious pitfalls of income taxes. Support the Fair Tax [fairtax.org], both at the federal and state levels.

    -jcr
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @05:36PM (#15389898)
    Second, it doesn't follow that just because you're working outside of the state that you aren't making use of the state's resources. Ever wonder why so many businesses are located in Manhatten? Its not because of the low-low prices of real-estate.

    I may have eaten a Georgia peach, a Florida Tangerine, a Texas Grapefruit and a California orange today. Not to mention the Oklahoma oil and a car from Michigan. So I guess that one could argue that I'm using those states' resources, too, but please don't. I really don't want to pay state income tax to 48 states I don't work in whose "resources" I indirectly use.

  • by Nilatir (179045) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @06:23PM (#15390180) Homepage
    Don't forget, however that they're taxing people who can't vote against them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:19PM (#15390458)
    You bought that fruit, no?

    Try another analogy.
  • by Elemenope (905108) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:21PM (#15390462)

    WTF state are you in? And why haven't you sued them yet for equity? And why aren't there bloody mobs with bloody pitchforks storming the capitol? Though I believe you if you say so, I find this almost hard to believe. Boiling a frog with slowly rising taxes is one thing. Stabbing them in the eye with a skewer is something else entirely.

  • by HyperTiger (898038) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @09:19PM (#15390978)
    By this logic, offshored jobs (in India or wherever) should be paying taxes to the state where their employer is.
  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056.yahoo@com> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @12:22AM (#15391662) Homepage Journal
    Although I sympathize with telecommuters (I have state residence in NYC, but currently work in Beijing for a client in Atlanta) I doubt this law will end up helping us much. NY goes after a lot of telecommuters because a lot of companys use remote offices as a way to get around paying tax, not because they want to go after the 'little guy on a terminal in Michigan'. The same reasoning applies to people working in NYC but living in NJ or elsewhere, we ask them to pay NYC tax because the City is providing all the infrastructure necessary to help them become successful. It's just not fair for someone to make money because of all the effort and local tax dollars spent to make NYC a good place to do business and not contribute to that effort.

    I hear you when you say that why should I pay if I don't live there or if I don't go there to an office. But your clients do live there or work there and they are there because of the huge investment in tax dollars to make NYC a place for you to find clients. Otherwise you'd just find local clients. So it's reasonable to ask for you to pitch into that community effort. I think we just need to come up with a better way to measure that 'pitch in' amount and make sure it's directly tied to your direct benefit and not to pork projects in upstate NY that primarily benefit politicians trying to hold on to thier positions.

    My feeling is that this is just another wedge issue, like the marriage penalty tax, that certain people in Washington will use to push through more tax cuts for the wealthy or for corporations. We will get our commuter tax 'relief' but 100 times more in tax breaks to people with enough already will be attached to it.

    Personally I think all taxes are too high, but I am wary of people in washington with an agenda riding my annoyance to push through things I am not in favor of.
  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @01:07AM (#15391822)

    As you can see, taxing you based on your total income is the only way to ensure that you're paying the same amount in tax as someone who earns the same amount in one state.

    You're missing the point. Income wholly in one state shouldn't affect the other state's tax revenue. NYC has no claim on income in NJ just because I also work in NYC some of the time.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:04AM (#15392034) Journal
    It continues to amaze me the trememdous ammount of money and effort the rich put into trying to increase the gap even further...

    You have to make a special case for the poor, because that's where everyone looks first, but it just has to SOUND like it will help them... it can actually increase the burden on most of them even more than the current situation, as almost nobody will check the numbers, or ask for specifics.

    But you don't have any such restriction on the middle class. Everyone's worried about the poor, but nobody pays attention when you suggest vastly increasing the tax burden on the middle-class. Gee, I wonder why the very rich and poor vote Republican, while the middle-class doesn't...

    And lies by omission are fair game... You don't need to bring up the list of the unlimited ways someone can circumvent the new tax system, but be sure and mention ALL of the (few) ways you can with the current system. Also, saying the rich spend more, not mentioning that it's only spend a fraction as much of their income as the middle-class and the poor spend, is a great way to garnish support for your proposal.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:57AM (#15392202)
    So what then can be done. . ?

    (Pardon me while I play point/counter-point with myself)

    Are you suggesting violence? Well, that's stupid. It's a good way to create a lot of misery and chaos. --In particular, it's a good way to give the administration an excuse to let loose with its big guns and really enact a lock-down. Sorry, but you don't have enough fire-power to contest the government. Have you not read your Machiavelli? He described the very tactic; essentially, political judo with guns. You don't want to go there.

    No, the way to go is to fight ignorance. If everybody, including the dupes in the police force and armed forces who are doing the Dark Side's bidding, (and I'm willing to bet it's only some of them), if those guys woke up, then who would remain to heil Bush?

    Fight ignorance. If you can wake people up, then you can start to solve things; all the raw workings of the solution are built right into the American system. It just takes awareness and will to make things change.

    Enlightened people need not be abused.


    -FL

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