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November 09, 2009


Nicole Belson Goluboff, Esq.

Re: "H1N1 in D.C.," as lawmakers craft legislation that would remove an untenable financial penalty for taking sick leave - lost pay - they should also eliminate the steep penalty for telecommuting. To help contain the spread of the H1N1 virus, the Obama Administration has wisely encouraged employers to permit both leave and telecommuting, and both options must be affordable.

Right now, telecommuting can be too expensive for Americans who work for out-of-state employers. If, for example, a Connecticut resident works for a New York company and agrees to telecommute when her son comes down with the flu, she may be subject to double taxation on the income she earns at home: She may be taxed once by Connecticut on the Connecticut wages and then a second time by New York. The threat of owing two states taxes on the same compensation can force potentially contagious employees to reject the telework option, sending their ill children to school - or ignoring their own symptoms - and going to work.

A bi-partisan federal bill called the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 2600)would eliminate the double tax penalty for telecommuting across state lines. It would bar states like New York from taxing the income nonresidents earn in their states of residence.

Any legislation designed to allow Americans to care for themselves or their family members when illness strikes without undue financial risk must provide for telecommuter tax fairness as well as paid leave.

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