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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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  • I never really understood this complaint. I live in the midwest. If I do some remote work for a client in New York, how do they expect to collect New York income tax from me? Do they have any legal recourse whatsoever to try to collect?

    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?

    I'm glad to see this legislation go through, even though I think it's incredibly stupid that there's a need for it.

  • by charleste (537078) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:18PM (#15389336)
    Their legal recourse is to first bill you, then get a judgement (in NY) against you, and then your wages (from anywhere) are garnished. You can't just "not pay". Sucks, don't it? As far as how your "locale" is determined - that's up to your employer. I am a 100% telecommuter - in Colorado, and my "office" is in Tampa, FL.
  • by KiltedKnight (171132) * on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:20PM (#15389351) Homepage Journal
    This legislation could easily provide the kind of tax relief middle income families keep looking for so they can really put a little more away for retirement, kids' education, etc. Telecommuting already allows them to save money by not having to drive or ride public transportation all the time while leveraging something they're already paying for... a high speed internet connection.

    NY has always been a problem with taxing non-residents... whether they telecommute or not.

    I used to work in NYC while living in NJ. Even with going in to the office on a daily basis, NY wanted me to report all income (interest, dividends, side job not in NY, etc), then calculate the tax on that, using the non-resident scale, then multiply it by the percentage of my total income earned in NY. Net result is that I had to pay more in taxes instead of paying based solely on money earned in NY.

  • Fairness? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by d_54321 (446966) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:48PM (#15389542) Journal
    If passed, the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act would prevent states from taxing income earned by nonresidents who telecommute to an in-state employer while working from home.
    Why not just go all the way [fairtax.org] and not tax income?
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:51PM (#15389568) Journal
    well, more or less, try http://www.fairtax.org/ [fairtax.org] for a different method of taxation that would not care what state you earned the money in or from.
  • Re:It'll never pass (Score:3, Interesting)

    by triskaidekaphile (252815) <xerafin@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:58PM (#15389615) Homepage

    Not good for big business? Exactly what is the biggest expense that business has to pay in the United States?

    Answer: Salary

    So please, raise your hand with me if you would be willing to be PAID LESS if you could WORK FROM HOME?

  • by dkoulomzin (320266) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:06PM (#15389670)
    I'm not advocating double-taxation, which I agree would be unfair.

    What I'm saying is that the very fact that your employer can employ you at all has at least something to do with taxes at its location. Businesses don't choose NYC for its cleanliness or safety. They choose NYC because it is a great place to do business. That's because of the infrastructure that taxation of wages at least partially provides. So your taxes are bolstering the infrastructure that makes your job possible. (Not that I feel in any way that taxes person A pays should exist soley to make person A's life better, but since you seem to, I'm putting this in your terms.)

    Just so you know, if you telecommute to an employer in NYC: if you're sacked, its NY unemployment benefits that you draw. If your actions result in criminal negligence, you'll be tried in NY. Your employer is paying payroll tax in NY. Your rights as a worker are those of a New Yorker, and are enforced in and by the New York legal system. I fail to see how you "fail utterly to see" how a telecommuter doesn't consume (expensive) resources in the state in which he or she is actually employed.
  • Re:Free Lunch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by paulbd (118132) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:16PM (#15389754) Homepage
    Sorry, but although I am sympathetic to your points about an overly pro-corporate environment, I think your perspective on this tax is skewed.

    I telecommute from suburban Philadelphia to ... well, thats a good question. My employer has an office in NYC that is home to about 6 people, but it also has an office in LA and Nashville, as well as London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo. Even if I used my company's computing equipment (I don't), it would be hard to pin point exactly what is special about the NYC office other than its my nominal "designated office".

    My home neighbourhood is the one that faces expenses from my presence here - theoretically I will drive to and from home more often given than I work at home, I will use more local services because I am at home etc.

    But wait. If I commuted to work, I'd be driving those same roads every day whereas by telecommuting I drive them hardly ever. Moreoever, if I returned to my life as a stay-at-home parent, I'd be using local services even more (parks, libraries, stores and more), and paying nothing "extra" to do so. So who is winning and losing here? NYC incurs costs that are asymptotically zero from my designated office location being there. My home neighbourhood incurs costs that are either identical with or lower than the ones that would be involved in me not working at home. I pay state taxes anyway, and am glad to pay for the provision of state and local government services. I just can't see how my telecommuting has anything to do with my specific case. I live and work in Pennsylvania for a company with a world wide presence and an office in NYC. I pay taxes to Pennsylvania (gladly!) and that helps pay for the services I use, and would continue to use even if I were unemployed and paying no taxes.

    What's the claim that NYC should collect taxes from me?

  • by Jaywalk (94910) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:24PM (#15389808) Homepage
    There's little benefit for big business
    Excuse me? How do you figure? At this very moment, my butt is parked in an Michigan office with a tie around my neck doing work I could do at home in my bunny slippers. I've got an office all set up there and a high speed line to work with. Now assuming a $100 per hour billing rate, the client is shelling out about $4000 a week for my services. They're also shelling out about $1900 a week to fly me out from Boston, drive around in a rental car and sleep in a hotel.

    Are you saying big business wants to pay a 50% premium on consulting services?

  • Re:It'll never pass (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:48PM (#15389974)
    My state taxes my state tax refunds. They treat it as additional income, which is then taxed in the next tax year.

    That means that when they take more money than they were entitled to out of my paycheck, they get to use it for a year without paying me for the privilege. Then when I catch them at it and they return it to me, the next year they say are suddenly entitled to a piece of something they weren't entitled to before?

    So the government gets a one-year interest-free loan from me, then loans it back to me for a year, and then charges me interest on that!

    At least I don't have to telecommute and have to deal with double-taxation from two states. I live close enough to my workplace that I could walk, even in Winter.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @05:33PM (#15390235)
    The idea is this:

    The people of a nation collectively put together a pile of money in order to do useful things which everybody agrees they need. Right? Building roads and water supply systems, police agencies, hospitals etc.

    But then. . .

    Who gets elected? Why, the people who are cut-throat and unfair in their methods. The ones who lie the best. --The ones who are drawn to power!

    Why do they win? Because they use all the normal tools to get elected which good people have, PLUS they also use lies and underhanded manipulations. They win over good-hearted people because good-hearted people limit themselves to only using above-board tactics. And so, with limited tool-boxes, the good guys tend to lose more often than the criminals, who arm themselves, not just with above-board tactics like posters and election promises, but also with wonky voting machines and hate-based propaganda about how they will punish, 'welfare moms'. (Which make up a microscopic fraction of the public spending in even the most socialist of nations). But Hate and Dark Side emotions are much easier to kindle in a voting public than rational thought. And anybody who is above hate will lose their vote anyway to a fixed voting machine. And if that doesn't work, the state-owned media will just lie about who won. Or they'll just kill the honest politicians in plane crashes. One way or another, the Dark Side wins time and again. The good guys don't stand a chance once the bad guys get in and own the game board!

    So these greedy, morally bankrupt politicians and their industry-owning friends realize, "Hey! Check it out. With my brother-in-law in office, I can get all kinds of policies passed which entitle me to a big slice of that nice juicy public cash pie without my actually having to earn it! People are plenty stupid, they'll believe any old lie, and we just have to organize it so that the state has all the guns. Keen! I can live high and never have to put in a real day of work ever again!"

    And so it goes.

    But. . .

    Because the greedy are greedy, they never feel like they have enough, and so the taxes rise, and the hidden taxes, (such as oil and energy), rise. And they cut away at the actual things a nation would probably want, like education funds and medical care. (You just trick the people through massive propaganda into believing that such things are bad for them. Sounds insane, but look around you.) With social spending cut, there's more money for the greedy politician and his friends and family.

    But somehow. . , even with the billions flowing into the politician's family coffers, it's still not enough. This is because greed is NOT good. Greed is a disease! --And so the greedy looked around to find new ways to make even more money, and they realized that it was advantageous to them if the other nations of the world never achieved first-world status. Cheep, 1-cent an hour labor is a great way to get and stay rich! --So they use the secret-service agencies to subvert and de-stabalize nations on the brink of industrial success. This is done through funding coups of legitimate foriegn leaders and channeling heavy narcotics trade through those nations. Drug corridor nations quickly become user nations. (The Opium War in China was a good example of how drugs were used to destroy a nation's growth momentum.)

    But high taxes and hidden taxes and entire slave nations are still are not enough for the greedy. Nope. --So they start wars, filling the people with fear, all to ensure that the people are too afraid to think rationally and otherwise recognize that they are being abused by their own government. --Plus, the weapons sales are another excellent way to cut into that nice juicy public cash pie!

    So what percentage of your tax dollars do you think are being spent on things the collective public actually wanted in the first place? 30 percent? 20 percent? I'm willing to bet it's even less.

    So what do you do about it?

    Well, you can't
  • by Trepalium (109107) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @06:08PM (#15390409)
    I don't live in NY, but I hear this same rational from people locally. The fact of the matter is, most of the taxes come from the city residents, so it's only natural that that most of the taxes should go to the city infrastructure. Rural taxpayers are not subsidizing urban dwellers. In fact, it's usually the other way around.
  • Contractor! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @06:59PM (#15390666)
    This whole taxation problem is one reason why it's great to be a contractor. As a contractor, my official place of business IS my home. If I'm working for a NY company, it doesn't matter. I'm a private company working in Washington, and a NY company is simply paying for my services. So NY can't collect a dime from the money they pay me.
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @12:19PM (#15395516) Homepage Journal
    I like the analogy. It makes me wonder about something though. Lets say I'm a consultant in state A. A person for Acme calls me from state D and pays me for 2 hours of my time to work on XYZ in their primary state D POP. Do I owe taxes to state D? I may be using the state's resources if the state helped pay for or subsidize any of the fiber infrastructure that I may be crossing. What about states B and C? What if they too subsidized their state's fiber plant and I'm transitting across their network resources. Do I owe them taxes too? The absurdly of the analogy can grow exponentially too. What if state D's power was generated in state E. State E paid for the high-voltage aerial lines to their border and state D paid for the lines to their distribution grid as well as the monthly costs. Do I therefore owe state E taxes as well? The reservoir that provides the city in which Acme built its business comes from state F. Yadda yadda yadda. That is an example of the analogy reaching absurdity but of course our government redraws that boundary often.

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