Bill encourages telework

Stay home, says Rep. Frank Wolf.

The Northern Virginia Republican, whose district features nightmarish commutes into Washington, D.C., wants to offer a $500 tax credit to entice people to stay away from their offices.

Wolf introduced legislation Tuesday to let workers— from government and the private sector—deduct $500 from their taxes to offset the cost of setting up workstations at home if they use them at least 75 days a year and avoid commuting to offices.

"There is nothing magical about strapping ourselves into a car, driving sometimes up to an hour and a half to an office only to sit in front of a computer terminal," Wolf said. "With the advances that have been made in computer technology in just the last five years, there is no reason more people—including federal employees—shouldn't be teleworking," he said.

Working from home yields enormous benefits, Wolf said. Productivity increases, parents can spend more time with their children by eliminating their commute, and traffic congestion, air pollution and gasoline consumption decline, he said.

A perennial champion of telework, Wolf, secured $2.1 million in 1998 to build telecommuting centers in Northern Virginia. In 1999 he proposed giving companies pollution credits if they let employees work from home. Initially, the program is aimed at employers in Washington, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and Denver.

Last year, Wolf added language to the transportation budget requiring federal agencies to identify employees whose jobs are appropriate for teleworking one or more days a week. This year agencies are expected to begin offering employees the option to telecommute.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who has worked with Wolf on some of these measures, has introduced a similar bill giving a tax credit for telecommuting in the Senate.

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