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An income tax credit for employers when their employees telecommute for work.

A Senate Bill under review right now, and receiving a hearig at 02-09-09 1:15 PM in conference room 016.
Submit Your Testimony !

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/lists/measure_indiv.aspx?...

RELATING TO INCOME TAX CREDITS.
Provides an income tax credit for employers when their employees telecommute for work.
The committee(s) on EDT deferred the measure until 02-09-09 1:15 PM in conference room 016.

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/SB255_.htm

The purpose of this Act is to implement a statewide telecommuting income tax credit to help alleviate Hawaii's high costs for transportation-related expenses to work, to reduce Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuel, to reduce traffic congestion on Hawaii's roadways, and to provide the workers of Hawaii with an opportunity to spend more time either working from home or with their families, rather than in traffic.

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We had a great discussion about this idea last year. I definitely support it. It seems like a no-brainer.
Good grief, Hawaii -- yet ANOTHER Tax Credit attempt? Really? At a time when Schools and Public Libraries are being forced to cut back, and Community Programs are being shut down because the Non-Profits aren't receiving as much State Funding?

Let's get our priorities straight, Hawaii.

Even though this program is limited to $2 Million per year, the thought of the State reimbursing 75% of Equipment and Infrastructure costs (up to $1200 per Participating Employee) in a Down Economy is poorly timed, and simply outrageous.

I'm not disputing the obvious benefits of Telecommuting and Coworking, but I don't think the State should be shelling out any money to make it happen. Sure, the State benefits from having fewer cars on the roads; but the Telecommuters benefit from reduced fuel expenses and a better quality of life.

Oh heck yeah, as a Telecommuter, I could continue to be a Power Coder for XYZ Corporation with liberal Flex Schedule, and I could handle a cholicy baby or play ball with the kids during the daylight. The Quality of Life argument is there, and (at least in my profession), there's no reduction in the quality of work performed.

My point is this: The benefits already exist and the case for Telecommuting can already be made. There is no need for the State to add any Sweeteners to make Telecommuting happen.

Of course, I'd love for the state to pay 75% of the costs of a fresh new laptop and a Coworking Space for my future employees. However, I simply cannot in good conscience accept that if it takes away a meal (or anything similarly essential) from someone who depended on a (now diminished) State-Funded program.

Businesses that can benefit from Telecommuting are among the "Haves" in Hawaii. Please don't support Tax Credit programs (which further benefit the "Haves") by taking away from the "Have Nots" that really need those resources.
Submit your testimony !
There are instructions on the website on how to submit your testimony. you can send in exactly what you said. you can also say that you support the intent of the bill, but do not support the bill as it is written and suggest amendments and you can submit potential amendments to the bill that they can incorporate to clear up the items that you feel are stumbling blocks or suggest to remove certain lines.

personally I support the intent of the bill, but have not read the entire thing through yet (almost 4 am when I found it listed.) I also would not support the state paying for my or anyone else's personal hardware and items needed to telecommute. I think that should be on the company or the individual. I think that many that want to telecommute likely work in a profession where they may already have the necessary hardware to do it.

but I would support a tax credit for simply staying off the road or for promoting the use of technology more. In that fashion, maybe there should be some type of standardized performance measurements required along with this so that anyone that wants the tax credit must show increased performance, or the significance of the benefit before they can claim the credit ?

This way its not just handed out to anyone and their brother and used to purchase new laptops for Christmas gifts and get a tax write-off for them.....
Laurence A. Lee: Please don't support Tax Credit programs (which further benefit the "Haves") by taking away from the "Have Nots" that really need those resources.
I don't think anyone wants to take meals away from hungry people. Curtis spends a good deal of time working in homeless shelters. You can use this emotive argument against nearly any spending proposal, "Why don't you give that money to the needy?"

I certainly agree that we shouldn't dole out tax incentives lightly. They aren't free, but well designed incentives often pay for themselves and contribute to the good of the community. In this case the question comes down to, will this incentive reduce traffic, raise awareness of the benefits of telecommuting, and have a positive environmental impact? An aggressive plan could even reduce traffic to the point of saving on infrastructure costs. The math isn't easy and shouldn't be oversimplified.

The benefits already exist and the case for Telecommuting can already be made.
You are right. They do exist even without the incentive, but many companies have a cultural barrier against telecommuting that prevents them from even trying it. If this incentive provides the extra push necessary to get our large employers to give it a try that would be a huge benefit to everyone. The fact of the matter is that most businesses respond to fiscal incentives and little else.
Daniel Leuck said:
I don't think anyone wants to take meals away from hungry people. Curtis spends a good deal of time working in homeless shelters. You can use this emotive argument against nearly any spending proposal, "Why don't you give that money to the needy?"

Indeed. But seriously, this Tax Credit would have the State come up with up to $1200 per Participating Employee in this program -- up to $2 Million could be taken from a substantially diminished General Fund.

At a time where other State-Funded programs are making dramatic cutbacks, legislation like this is just not appropriate at this time. We need to find more effective ways to stretch the few dollars we have in the General Fund, and spend those dollars wisely -- not figure out new ways to spend what little we have.

Take any employee's annual salary, and multiply it by whatever fudge-factor you like to come up with the company's true cost to retain that employee. From that number, it's clear that $1200 per Participating Employee is totally Chump Change to the businesses that can benefit from a Telecommuting arrangement.

$1200 per Participating Employee could be Chump Change and possibly a Tax Writeoff for a business; whereas a possible $2 Million taken from the General Fund could have benefitted another program elsewhere. The suggestion that most businesses respond to fiscal incentives (versus the input from highly valued employees) points to an internal failure within such companies' Upper Management.

As for the long-term benefits, let's have a look: Yes, telecommuting reduces traffic and reduces emissions -- which is a good thing overall. It also reduces the revenue generated on Fuel Taxes. So, in sum, passing this particular legislation has a doubly-negative impact on the State's General Fund. :-)

Is "Being Green" worth spending up to $2 Million on a Social Experiment? It's definitely something worth pondering; and to some, "Being Green" is worth any cost. In the end, the Legislators and individual Taxpayers shall decide. From where I sit, businesses can easily afford these expenses, and should not be turning to the State for handouts to pay for Telecommuting Equipment and Infrastructure.

Not to dismiss the idea completely -- I would support Legislation that is crafted to provide Incentives to businesses that create Coworking spaces. It would still encourage Telecommuting, and it would be a much more sensible Investment for the State, IMHO.
Thanks, this thread helped me collect my thoughts for final submission.
Excellent !
That is why I started this one as I think the powers that beeee need to hear from more people before they make decisions. Submit your testimony ! I think that the use of technology definitely needs to be endorsed, pursued and embraced as much as it can be. But I also agree that government should not be paying for things that one would expect to be part of the standard operations for a corporation.

If they want to create some type of incentive, maybe this is great... but it also needs to be written better so that it cant be abused for Christmas gifts and other things. How does it measure effectiveness ? your comment about it being a social experiment is interesting and I have to agree that if there is no accountability as to expectations and effectiveness of the tax incentives/investment, then it is just that.. an experiment and not something that is expecting results.

I am all for the tax incentives if the results can be measureable.

Glad that it helped you think. Car to share your final submission ?
Sure. I have attached a PDF of what I submitted by email. It's pretty much all of what was said above, just edited for content and flow. :-)

I'm also considering submitting something regarding SB256, which seeks to establish a Task Force to investigate the benefits of Telecommuting.

It's becoming clear to me that the State hasn't the faintest clue on how to get started on Telecommuting, and is simply throwing money around to hire consultants and defer as much as possible. *Grr*
Attachments:
Nice Testimony !
And yes, the other one you pointed out is interesting too. you are probably right in that they dont know what to do or dont have a clue. I actually had to submit testimony recently AGAINST HB1580 - creating a data collection task force to study the data on the homeless. Ironic because that is what we do. but.. that was the point. the state already has a standard and centralized data management system in place that every homeless service provider is mandated to use by HUD... and the legislators that introduced the new bill had no clue that the state already had something in place and is mandated by the federal government to use.
lets... "Crate a task force" !!! whooot woooot !!

This is the exact reason that people need to be more involved in this Governemt of the people... we need to keep an eye on what is being done because sometimes the guys trying to help dont know what is already being done and it would end up being redundant and wasting money. Everyone should be reading more of the senate and house bills to see what these guys YOU ELECTED are working on... to "help" us.
Wouldn't it just be easier to tax parking or something? This credit actually dis-incentivises companies who purchase bus passes for their employees (like mine). Actually using public transportation might be better than telecommuting overall, since you can use the same bus pass for non-work travel too (shopping, school, etc..)
This is an interesting alternative and should be evaluated. One counterargument is that it might create an environment where only the wealthy can drive because parking downtown or in Waikiki is already expensive. On the other hand, this can be applied to any fixed tax or fee including the tolls that are used to reduce traffic in NY and Tokyo.
Russell Castagnaro said:
Wouldn't it just be easier to tax parking or something? This credit actually dis-incentivises companies who purchase bus passes for their employees (like mine). Actually using public transportation might be better than telecommuting overall, since you can use the same bus pass for non-work travel too (shopping, school, etc..)

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