In the crazy COVID world of employment, governments forced firms to have employees work from home remotely. Like so many “temporary” measures to reduce exposure, the changes are fast becoming permanent. Employees are staying home, even though the home’s distractions impact work quality.
A Deutsche Bank study by Luke Templeman proposes that employees who continue to work from home, once government advisories are lifted, pay a “privilege tax” to help subsidize lower-income employees who cannot work remotely. Since remote workers immediately benefit financially from reduced travel, clothing and food, the report calls for sharing the saved wealth with their commuting low-income colleagues.
The research essay titled “A work-from-home tax” suggests this tax in the context of rebuilding after the novel coronavirus. However, socialism would be a better description of the motive. Socialists have a metaphysical problem with inequality and all and any privilege. The suggested tax is a penalty on remote workers earning a higher income. Nothing has changed in the low-income workers’ tasks or functions to merit the unsolicited raise.
In most cases, the reason “low income” workers cannot work from home is because their jobs demand their physical presence. The cashier, warehouse worker, security officer and others need to be at the workplace to ensure their work is done and products and services delivered. Their wages are already determined by market and labor indicators. While admittedly gratifying socialist lust for income redistribution, this wrongheaded privilege tax would only skew the labor market.
For the remote worker, the tax represents a penalty upon an already agreed-upon wage. The report suggests that remote workers pay a 5% tax. The employer should pay the tax if it discontinues providing a desk for the worker at the office. If there is no desk and the choice to work remotely is the worker’s, he should shoulder the tax. The author estimates that U.S. tax authorities would raise some $48 billion a year to distribute to low-income workers in the form of subsidies. The study recommends that the tax only be applied once governments have lifted their remote work advisories.
While the tax would discourage continued “work-from-home”—in itself a good thing—it would nevertheless penalize one worker and subsidize another, thus creating a class struggle between worker levels. It is inadmissible income redistribution!
Sociologically, remote working is very undesirable. People cannot be confined to the home. They need the social interaction of the workplace. They need churches, libraries, marketplaces, restaurants, and every other kind of “third place” where they can socialize. Humans are social beings and need society. The proposed privilege tax serves to encourage a chaotic work situation that needs to return to normal.
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