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Here’s who can claim home office tax deductions (Sorry, remote workers)

The number of people who work remotely increased as the pandemic took hold, and while some have returned to the office, others are still working at home. People have started businesses from home or new careers as they were laid off or resigned from their jobs.

Small business owners have to track many expenses, and among the highest are rental fees for office space. If you and your employees are working remotely, you can sublease that space or sell it if you’re an owner. Tap or click here for more tips on saving money for your small business.

You can deduct legitimate expenses from your taxes if you work from home. There are restrictions and rules, so the amount you can deduct will vary, or you may not be eligible at all. Read on to find out if you’re eligible.

Here’s the backstory

The instructions for IRS Form 8829 state that “you can deduct business expenses that apply to a part of your home only if that part is exclusively used on a regular
basis.” This includes conducting your business or trade in the space on your own or receiving clients, customers and patients there.

Two critical factors that contribute to your home office qualifying as your principal place of business are the importance of what you do there and the amount of time you spend there.

If you conduct administrative or managerial activities at another fixed location, it will lower your eligibility. For example, if you are spending most of your time at an office away from home doing billing, this could disqualify you. However, you can have an outside company do the billing from their location.

You can also deduct expenses related to the inventory you store in your home. If you sell electronics online and ship them from your home, that counts as inventory.

If you run a daycare center out of your home regularly, you may be able to deduct the business expenses. Do you have any children under the age of six? Tap or click here to see if you qualify for the child tax credit.

You don’t need to own the home where you conduct your business. There is space on the form to put down the amount you pay in rent.

No deduction for W-2

Here’s some bad news for most regular employees working remotely. CNBC recently reported on an exception for certain workers, as stated by the IRS in a September 2020 reminder: “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home.”

This came along with The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which bans such workers from taking the deduction from 2018 to 2025.

The space you declare as a home office has to be used for just that purpose. For example, if you work in your living room but your family also uses that room to watch TV, you’ll probably have trouble getting a deduction.

Filling out Form 8829

You can download Form 8829 and get instructions and more information at irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8829. There are four parts to the form:

  • Use Part I to determine how much of your home is used for your business. You divide the square footage of your office area by the total square footage of your home and enter the result as a percentage. Home expenses like insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance and depreciation may be deducted, but only up to the total percent of space you use in your home for your business.
  • Use Part II to enter your total business income and your deductible expenses.
  • Use Part III to enter the amount of your home’s depreciation.
  • If your expenses are greater than the current year’s limit, you can carry over the excess to 2021. Enter that information in Part IV.

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