Nov 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Deutsche Bank proposes a work-from-home tax

Illustration of a coffee cup with a dollar sign steam
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There's a new idea for a tax: a tariff on the teleworkers who have the privilege of doing their jobs from home.

The big picture: The rationale from Deutsche Bank, which proposed the tax in a research note, is that remote workers are not contributing as much as they were to the economy because they're not commuting or buying lunch by the office or grabbing that afternoon coffee.

Details: Deutsche Bank proposes a 5% tax on remote workers who choose that way of life after it's safe to go back to work.

  • If employers aren't able to provide a desk for the worker, they're responsible for the tax. If they are, the workers themselves are responsible.
  • Low-income and self-employed workers would be exempt.
  • "On an average salary of $55,000 at a tax rate of 5%, Deutsche Bank estimates the average person would pay more than $10 a day in tax, and raise a total of $48 billion a year," USA Today's Brett Molina writes.

But, but, but: "Directly taxing work-from-home is a practical minefield," Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom tells Axios. "I can imagine a huge amount of misreporting, distortion and other problematic behavior."

Still, it's a good idea to address the income inequality that has been magnified by the pandemic, Bloom says.

  • "I would simply put up tax rates on top earners as they are hugely more likely to work from home," Bloom says. "This is simple. We already have the tax structure for this."
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