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Senator proposes tax credit for telecommuters

Sen. Rick Santorum introduces a bill that would provide a $500 tax credit for every worker who telecommutes at least 75 days per year.

A U.S. senator today rolled out a new proposal that would give telecommuters a tax credit.

Sen. Rick Santorum's bill, the Telework Tax Incentive Act, will provide a $500 tax credit for every worker who telecommutes at least 75 days per year. The credit will go to whoever--either the employee or employer--pays for setting up the home office.

"The purpose of my legislation is to provide an incentive to encourage more employers to consider telecommuting for their employees," Santorum, R-Pa., said in a statement. He announced the proposal at the International Telework Association & Council's (ITAC) Telework America Action Summit.

Supporters argue that telecommuting reduces traffic congestion, air pollution, gas consumption and dependency on foreign oil. They say the arrangement also benefits working parents, retirees and people who may find it difficult to commute to or work in a traditional office.

However, companies have shied away from allowing employees to work from home because of traditional business values and the extra cost of building home offices.

Telecommuting proponents are hoping incentives like Santorum's will help push more businesses to adopt telecommuting programs.

The Santorum legislation would provide a $500 tax credit for furnishings and the electronic information equipment needed for a person to telecommute.

Santorum is the author of the National Telecommuting and Air Quality Act. The act created a pilot program to study giving incentives to companies that allow their employees to telecommute in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.