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Washington state Senator Kevin Van De Wege. (Photo via WAStateLeg.org)

Washington state businesses will be eligible for new tax credits when they let employees work remotely if the legislature passes a new bill filed in advance of the 2018 legislative session.

If approved, the bill would allow employers to collect tax credits for “telework expenditures,” such as equipment that allows employees to work remotely. Companies could also get an annual tax break of $500 per employee who works remotely at least 12 days each month, up to $20,000. The credit only applies to employees of companies headquartered Washington and it can’t exceed the amount of taxes the company owes.

The bill was introduced by Washington state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, a Democrat from Sequim, out on the Olympic Peninsula.

“There are a lot of people out here that do telecommute and the bill really favors everybody in the state because it benefits both rural areas, like this one, and urban areas to get people off the road and allow them to work at home,” Van De Wege told GeekWire.

According to the bill, “commuting accounts for more trips and miles traveled than any other single transportation purpose.” Van De Wege’s goal is to encourage fewer people to commute to work, eventually reducing carbon emissions and congestion in urban areas. He’s hopeful, but far from convinced, that the bill will be approved by the state legislature. Van De Wege is giving it 50/50 odds.

“Tax breaks or credits are always difficult and this is a new idea,” he said.

Georgia and Virginia already have similar laws, giving employers tax credits for employees who work remotely. Van De Wege expects it may be the beginning of a trend.

“I think it’s an idea that can gain in popularity and I wouldn’t be surprised a number of states enact it over the next decade or so,” he said.

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