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June 19, 2020

Senators Thune, Brown update mobile workforce bill for COVID-19

Second-ranking Senate Republican John Thune (R-SD) and fellow Finance Committee member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) June 18 introduced an updated version of their mobile workforce bill, newly called the Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act (S. 3995), that adds several special waivers relating to the pandemic. Like the previous version, the new bill exempts employers from withholding state income tax and workers from filing returns in another state if they work there for 30 or fewer days a year (does not apply to professional athletes, entertainers or national figures paid per event in other states.)

Specifically, the bill updates the previous version of the legislation in the following ways:

  • New 90-day threshold for healthcare workers. Healthcare workers who voluntarily travel to other states to work during the pandemic will be exempt from filing for an additional 60 days.
  • New 2020 waiver. The rules for determining worker presence won't apply for 2020 to take into consideration the effect that the pandemic has had on workers who are working from home in states different from their normal office locations.
  • Determining employee location. Employers would be allowed to rely on an employee's determination of the number of days spent in another state (assuming no fraud or collusion with the employer), but if an employer maintains a record system and tracks where employees work on a daily basis then that system must be used to determine work location.

During a news conference June 16, Senator Thune said, "We've got a bill that would eliminate the taxation for people have been helping out in the coronavirus relief efforts by going into other states and providing frontline support, particularly those that are involved in the medical field. I hope we can get that included in the next bill."

On the Senate floor June 4, Senator Thune advocated the previous Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act (S. 604), saying it has particular relevance in the age of coronavirus because "substantial numbers of workers travel to different states for temporary work assignments."

Senator Thune published a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the issue June 17.

The bill is attached. A press release is here.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Any member of the group, at (202) 293-7474.


Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act