People who carry on working from home once the coronavirus pandemic is over should pay more tax for the privilege, economists have warned.
Deutsche Bank experts say anyone choosing to work remotely should pay 5% more tax to support those whose jobs are under threat.
It is claimed that the country's home-based workforce would be no worse off if the plans were implemented – as they would save on purchases such as transport costs and lunch on-the-go.
Alternatively, it said the tax could be paid by employers who do not provide their staff with a permanent desk, Daily Mirror reports.
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It said the measures could help inject £7billion into the economy and could be used to support workers who have lost their jobs, frontline roles and those who have been forced to take on lower-paid jobs while they retrain.
"Working from home will be part of the 'new normal' well after the pandemic has passed," said Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank.
"Our calculations suggest the amounts raised could fund material income subsidies for low-income earners who are unable to work remotely and thus assume more ‘old economy’ and health risks," he added.
Millions of people have shifted to working from home as employers closed offices to contain the spread of Covid-19.
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And many employers have said it will become the “new normal” after the pandemic is over.
However, there are millions more who can't work from home, such as nurses and factory workers for example, and the tax could help support these roles, Deutsche Bank said.
"For years we have needed a tax on remote workers – Covid has just made it obvious,” strategist Luke Templeman said.
By working from home, people aren't paying for public transport or eating out at restaurants near their places of work, while expensive offices remain virtually empty, he added.
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"A big chunk of people have disconnected themselves from the face-to-face world yet are still leading a full economic life. That means remote workers are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits. That is a big problem for the economy."
A daily 5% working from home tax would cost an employee earning £35,000 just under £7 a day, according to Templeman’s calculations.
He suggests the £6.9billion raised in the UK by taxing remote workers could also provide a grant of £2,000 to the 12% of people aged over 25 who earn the minimum wage.
The 5% tax rate "will leave them no worse off than if they had chosen to go into the office" he added.
How would the tax work in the UK?
The levy would be paid either by employers who choose to let employees work home or employees who opt to stay at home.
However, it would not apply to "the self-employed and those on low incomes".
It also wouldn't apply when people are asked to stay home for a public health emergency or other medical reasons such as the Covid-19 lockdown.
The tax revenues would be used for a very specific purpose – to give grants to the millions of workers who cannot do their jobs from home and who make less than $30,000 a year.
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