“I live in Londonderry, New Hampshire and I work out of Boston – or maybe I should say I did work out of Boston. The nature of my job had me working from home usually two or three days a week, and then in Boston the other two or three days a week.”

“In March, when the COVID outbreak began – even before the emergency order – we were at first encouraged to work from home if we wanted, and then a few days later, we closed our offices company-wide. Since then, I’ve been working from home and ‘telecommuting’ full time.”

“The issue of the telecommuter tax really caught my attention around July when I started taking a look at what my tax liability will be for 2020. I didn’t think twice about it as my payroll department was withholding Massachusetts income tax just like normal. At the end of the year I normally receive a refund from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the neighborhood of 40% to 60% of my income taxes paid.”

“But then I saw that they were suggesting they’d increase my tax liability and actually keep all of it. That’s when I began digging into what the truth was and what the law said. The existing law is that telecommuters who work out of state are not obligated to pay Massachusetts state income tax when working from out of state – their Massachusetts source income is based upon a percentage of time physically in the state of Massachusetts. The Department of Revenue spells this out in their own instructions.”

“I realized this new regulation would take me from 20% of my income being taxable to 100% of my income being taxable – that’s a 500% increase. How can anyone justify a 500% tax increase in the middle of a recession? That’s why I testified against this, I did my research and I started getting a little more outspoken about this because it is just plain wrong.”

“As I dug deeper, I realized there are so many more reasons this doesn’t make sense. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts should be incentivizing people to work from home if they can. The governor himself encouraged it whenever possible. I’m working from home and helping reduce the spread of COVID – and helping a Massachusetts business keep running. So why are they punishing me for that? That doesn’t make sense.”

“And they claim it’ll be temporary. It’s stated that it will end by December 31 or 90 days after Governor Baker lifts the state of emergency, whichever comes sooner. But then we have to take a look at how Massachusetts has handled temporary taxes before. Because their sales tax was introduced in 1966 at 3%. And it was supposed to end in 1968. It never stopped and it only went up. Same thing with the income tax reduction they passed in 2000 – the rate was supposed to drop within three years but they took 20 to actually get it done.”

“Nobody I’ve talked to has any confidence this tax hike won’t become a permanent situation.”

“There are no real clear guidelines on this proposal. I’ve worked from home a certain percentage in the past, but now I’m working from home full time – not just because I had in the past, but also because my office is closed. So, what’s the guidance from the state as to what my tax liability is? It’s unclear. It’s punitive. It’s also one of these things that’s just so counterintuitive.”

“I’m calling it a fiduciary panic on Beacon Hill. I believe everybody is scrambling, recognizing there’s going to be a massive tax revenue shortfall. And so they are looking at how they can offset some of this shortfall.”

“The non-resident telecommuter is an easy target because who’s going to speak up for us? Who is my defender on Beacon Hill? It feels like I’m being punished for keeping my job and I’m being milked like a cash cow.”

“And the whole other thing is, how long do you think non-resident telecommuters will tolerate that kind of abuse? The state of Massachusetts is being phenomenally short sighted here. This explosive tax hike will drive tens of thousands of commuters and telecommuters permanently out of the state’s jurisdiction. What will happen is that as many telecommuters as possible will change their working location to New Hampshire or somewhere else in cooperation with their payroll departments to help offset this massive gouging.”

Peter Kimpton
Londonderry, New Hampshire