Millions of Americans across the country have been forced to self-isolate and work from home for months because of the Coronavirus pandemic. With new lockdowns being floated across the country, one Deutsche Bank analyst is now proposing to tax American workers for this “privilege.”
Under the proposal, workers would be required to pay a 5 percent tax on their income for every day they work remotely. The analyst projects that this could raise $48 billion per year in the United States.
The rationale for this tax? According to the Deutsche Bank analyst, Americans working remotely are basically mooching off society:
“…a big chunk of people have disconnected themselves from the face-to-face world yet are still living a full economic life. That means remote workers are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits.”
The report argues that Americans being forced to work from home are seeing “direct financial savings on expenses such as travel, lunch, clothes, and cleaning,” so can afford paying a new tax. Other benefits of working from home cited by the report include “forgone socializing” and “greater job security.”
This report assumes that Americans working from home are living in luxury. In reality, many Americans working from home have faced significant challenges through the pandemic including a reduction in work hours, uncertainty over the future of their employment and declining mental health due to the government-mandated lockdowns. In fact, according to the CDC, 40 percent of American adults surveyed in June reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse during the pandemic.
In addition to the clear downsides of forced isolation, there are many problems with this tax. For one, it could dramatically increase complexity in the code.
The tax would put new burdens on small and large companies that would presumably have to track whether their employees worked from home on any given day. It would be difficult to track especially with workers that work part-time or half days.
The report suggests exempting self-employed and low-wage Americans, which could incentivize businesses to hire contractors or part-time workers over full-time employees.
Revenue generated from the tax is supposed to “support the mass of people who have been suddenly displaced by forces outside of their control.” While there should be a safety net for these Americans, the solution is not to tax those that still have their jobs. A work from home tax is nothing but an excuse to expand the size and scope of government.
While the work from home tax hike has so far not gained traction from the Left, it would fit neatly into the playbook of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have called for a $90 trillion Green New Deal, a $32 trillion Medicare for All, and a 70 percent income tax rate.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democrat governors are considering new lockdowns, which would force millions of Americans back into isolation. Americans working from home have faced job insecurity, reduced hours, increased depression and anxiety, and declining mental health. A tax on the so-called “privilege” of working from home would exacerbate these negative side effects and add to this misery for millions of Americans.