Deutsche Bank has a bad proposal for your consideration.
Since more and more people are working at home now and a lot of them could very likely continue to do so once the pandemic ends, it’s going to create problems for parts of the economy that rely heavily on commuters or people otherwise being out and about.
That’s a reasonable assumption. How much of a problem it’s going to be and for whom is something we could argue all day long, but inevitably somebody’s slice of the pie is likely to be smaller than it used to be and it’s going to wind up putting a hurting on some folks.
But here’s where things go off the rails.
Rather than tightening up the world’s tax acts in general so that people are taxed fairly on the money they bring in *coughcough* multi-billionaires and large corporations *coughcough* or even just putting the attention on companies that clearly benefit from people working at home (Amazon, Zoom, Google), what we really ought to do is slap a work at home premium on regular working people so they can pay for the misery they’ve caused. Whatever keeps ultra-rich dudes from actually having to break with tradition and finally start pulling their societal weight, I suppose.
For this to have any hope of making any sense at all, we have to assume that people who work from home during normal times never go anywhere. This is dumb. They may go a few less places (even that’s debatable during times that aren’t full of deadly viruses), but they absolutely still do things. They take walks. They grab lunch. They go for coffee. They get their hair cut. They still have to drive their kids around. They’ll need daycare or temporary babysitting if they hope to accomplish anything productive during the work day. They shop at stores. They spend time at bars. They attend concerts and countless other forms of entertainment. And even if they’re staying in more and having things brought to them, what about all of the jobs they’re creating for delivery people? Some of those jobs have their own problems that again lead back to big corporations, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t count for anything.
We need to stop going out of our way to put ideas like these out there in order to protect the status quo and instead spend that energy on solving the wealth inequality problems that we all know exist. The money to pay for everything we need for a true collective good is out there. It just needs to find its way into more hands than those of the small group that’s hording much of it.
Entitled “What We Must Do to Rebuild,” the report outlines a series of problems that lay ahead and suggests some pretty radical solutions. For instance, Deutsche Bank researcher Luke Templeman proposes that leaders should impose a tax on people who work from home. Templeman argues that such a tax has been a long time coming, pointing out that “between 2005 and 2018, internet technology fuelled a 173 percent increase in the number of Americans who regularly worked from home.”
The report acknowledges that people working from home prior to the pandemic only made up about 5.4 percent of the workforce in the U.S. but says that number has grown to 56 percent in recent months. The proposed tax wouldn’t target citizens during times of government-imposed lockdowns, but a Deutsche Bank survey found that respondents would like to continue to work from home two to three days per week when it’s time for people to go back to the office. “That means remote workers are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits,” Templeman writes.
In other words, people working from home might not be gassing up their car, buying a cup of coffee, hiring a daycare, picking up lunch, or any of the other things that come with commuting to and from work. Providing those types of services is what keeps a large chunk of the rest of the workforce employed and the report proposes a tax on anyone who chooses to work from home in order to pool money for the people who are struggling with lost opportunities.
Templeman believes that a $10 tax per WFH day would be reasonable for a person in the U.S. making $55,000 a year. He calculates that this would roughly raise about $48 billion per year for a fund that would be used to issue $1,500 grants to fellow citizens who’ve fallen on hard times.