Workers in Wicklow have access to more than 5 hubs in the region

More than 6 in 10 workers “love the idea” of remote working hubs and would be willing to use one of the Government’s new 242 Connected Hubs facilities, if there was one in their area. According to the latest Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey (See Appendix) of 1,200+ taxpayers from Taxback.com’s customer database, 55% of those surveyed consider working in the office to be more expensive than working from home, whereas 33% say the costs are about the same.

Barry Cahill, Barry Cahill, Director of Taxback.com’s Employee Financial Wellbeing Service commented on the findings,

“To date, the State has invested more than €100 million upgrading former banks, Garda stations and other disused buildings to convert them into remote working hubs. The target is to have 400 hubs by 2025. There are currently 10 hubs in Wicklow* and the surrounding area and the Government has launched a voucher scheme this summer to give people free access to these hubs as a sort of taster of what’s available.

“If our survey is anything to go by, the demand for these facilities could do well to drive an even greater supply – be it from Government or private bodies. Of those taxpayers who are familiar with the concept of remote work hubs – 63% said they “love the idea”, while just over a fifth (21%) would rather work from home, with the remainder (16%) preferring to work from the office.”

The remote working hubs initiative recently announced by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, aims to support remote workers across the country by providing desk space in a range of repurposed buildings such as former convents, garda stations, and other unused buildings. These hubs will form part of a ‘Connected Hubs’ network, which are accessible through a mobile app.

Mr. Cahill commented: “Work hubs could really come into their own in the wake of the pandemic as organizations in certain industries come to the realization that staff don’t always have to be on-site. They would also be beneficial for regional development and could really deliver for local economies, perhaps even feeding into addressing our rising property price issues. For example, if a person once based in Dublin can work from a hub in the West of Ireland, then this could open up opportunities for them in terms of home ownership.

A quarter of respondents said that they didn’t know what these hubs are, which isn’t altogether surprising, but perhaps in 12 – 24 months they will become much more mainstream; if the survey is anything to go by uptake would be strong.”

Is Remote or Office Work More Expensive? What tax relief is available?

The Taxback.com survey also questioned whether workers face more expenses in working from home or from the office.

Mr. Cahill said: “More than half of respondents felt that working in the office is more costly than working from home. This stands to reason, as the expenses incurred going into the office every day can stack up pretty quickly – the cost of commuting is the obvious one, and probably the most significant, for most people, but there are also the costs of lunches, coffees, even “work clothes” adding to the bill. While far fewer people – 14% – felt that working from home was more financially demanding, there are no doubt still expenses incurred with a home office. For example, utility bills will be higher, particularly in the winter when the heating is on more.”

The tax experts say that whether you’re working from home partially or full-time, or are 100% office-based, there may well be tax reliefs available through which a refund could take the sting out of any associated work costs. 

Mr. Cahill commented: “Working from home relief and Flat Rate Expenses are two reliefs that are widely available but, in our experience, underutilised. While neither will amount to huge sums of money, we would question – even if it’s a few hundred Euro – why would anyone leave that behind? Particularly when the process to claim is pretty straight forward.”

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