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This is in response to Telework Trend Offers HR Quandaries .

Friday, February 12, 2010
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To the Editor:

Re: "Telework Trend Offers HR Quandaries" (Feb. 10, 2010), among the legal updates necessary to fit an increasingly mobile workforce is the removal of a state tax rule that unfairly punishes employees who telecommute across state lines.

As things stand now, under a rule known as the "convenience of the employer" rule, a state can tax nonresidents who choose to telecommute part-time to their in-state employers -- not just on the wages they earn when they work in the employer's state, but also on the wages they earn in their home states. 

Because the states where telecommuters live can also tax the wages these workers earn at home, the price of telecommuting is double taxation for many Americans.

Owing personal income taxes to two states instead of one is a powerful reason not to telecommute. 

The telework penalty frustrates individuals who want to reduce their carbon footprint and commuting costs and ease the struggle to meet both job and family demands. It also frustrates businesses trying to use telework to cut overhead costs; save jobs; hire new people; recruit the most qualified staff from the broadest geographic area; increase productivity and help assure business continuity when emergencies strike.

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Proposed bi-partisan Federal legislation called the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act would get rid of the double tax threat facing interstate telecommuters, prohibiting states from taxing the income nonresidents earn when they work in their states of residence. 

An essential first step to creating a legal system that better reflects the growing interest in telework is to abolish the tax penalty for doing it. The 111th Congress should pass the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act.

Nicole Belson Goluboff, Esq.

Scarsdale, N.Y.

Author of The Law of Telecommuting (ALI-ABA 2001 with 2004 Supplement) and Telecommuting for Lawyers (ABA 1998) and Advisory Board Member of the Telework Coalition

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