Home office expenses during the COVID-19 period

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected how many people in Australia work.

Many people have been asked to work from home.

You may have had to buy some things so you could work from home, like a desk or a laptop.

You may also be spending more money on things like electricity or internet costs.

You may be allowed to claim a deduction for working from home.

A deduction means you pay less tax.

You can only claim a deduction if you spent your own money.

If your employer gave you money for what you spent, you cannot claim a deduction.

If you spent your own money there is a new simple way to work out your deduction.

This new way is only if you worked from home from:

  • 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 in the 2019–20 financial year
  • 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (the 2020–21 financial year).

You can claim $0.80 for every hour you worked from home.

This is to cover all your extra costs of working from home.

You cannot claim for anything else. For example:

  • things you bought (like a desk)
  • your higher bills (like electricity or phone).

You need to keep a record of how many hours you work from home.

This could be a diary or a timesheet.

When you do your tax for 2019–20 you need to work out how many hours you worked from home between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

For example, if you worked from home for 8 weeks and you worked 40 hours each week that would be 320 hours.

When you have worked out the total hours you multiply it by $0.80.

For example, if you multiply 320 hours by $0.80 per hour you get $256.

This means you could claim a deduction of $256 when you lodge your tax return.

These numbers are just examples.

You need to work out the numbers for you.

You must

  • keep a record of how many hours you worked from home
  • work out your deduction amount
  • write the deduction amount in your tax return
  • write ‘COVID-19 hourly tax rate’ in your tax return.

There are 2 other ways you can work out deductions for working from home.

Find out more at www.ato.gov.au/WFH.

If you are not sure which way to work out deductions is best for you, ask for help from:

  • a family member or friend you trust
  • a registered tax professional.

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