Roy Gilbert

Gov. Baker’s telecommuting tax break may have limited impact

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By Zoe Yuqing Han
BU News Service

With around half of the state workforce concentrated in industries like education, health care and hospitality that require onsite work, Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to create a telecommuting tax incentive for companies to ease commuting congestion faces potential friction and technical challenges as his transportation bond bill works its way through the Legislature.

U.S. Department of Labor data from 2019 shows that a quarter of Massachusetts employees work for health care and education systems, 9.62% in accommodation and food services, then followed by 7.56% in manufacturing. Around 5% work in mining, lodging and construction, and 3.32% in transportation, warehousing, and utilities.

The breakdown reflects the difficulty in trying to ease traffic congestion by allowing more workers to work from home. That congestion has become an increasing concern for workers in choosing an employer, as highlighted in a MassBio survey this summer that found one in every four employees in the biotech industry has considered leaving the state for a better commute.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation reports in August that more than half of the greater Boston area (inside I-95/128) is congested from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and up to 65% from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

To address this congestion, the Baker administration put forward a tax credit incentive program up to $50 million each year to encourage employers to develop working policies to promote offsite work. It is one of the most publicized components of the $18 million bill to fund major […]

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