Many Americans have been working from home due to the pandemic, but only certain people will qualify to claim the home office deduction. This deduction allows qualifying taxpayers to deduct certain home expenses on their tax return when they file their 2021 tax return next year.
Here are some things to help taxpayers understand the home office deduction and whether they can claim it:
- Employees are not eligible to claim the home office deduction.
- The home office deduction, reported on Form 8829, is available to both homeowners and renters.
- There are certain expenses taxpayers can deduct. They include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, depreciation and rent.
- Taxpayers must meet specific requirements to claim home expenses as a deduction. Even then, the deductible amount of these types of expenses may be limited.
- The term “home” for purposes of this deduction:
- Includes a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property which provide basic living accommodations.
- A separate structure on the property such as an unattached garage, studio, barn or greenhouse.
- Any portion of a home used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn or similar establishment does NOT qualify as a “home” and, therefore, does not qualify for a home office deduction.
- Generally, there are two basic requirements for the taxpayer’s home to qualify as a deduction:
- There must be exclusive use of a portion of the home for conducting business on a regular basis. For example, a taxpayer who uses an extra room to run their business can take a home office deduction only for that extra room so long as it is used both regularly and exclusively in the business.
- The home must be the taxpayer’s principal place of business. A taxpayer can also meet this requirement if administrative or management activities are conducted at the home and there is no other location to perform these duties. Therefore, someone who conducts business outside of their home but also uses their home to conduct business may still qualify for a home office deduction.
- A portion of a home that is used exclusively for conducting business on a regular basis but not used as the principal place of business, will qualify for a home office deduction if either patients, clients or customers are met in the home or there is a separate structure that is used exclusively for conducting business on a regular basis.
- Taxpayers who qualify may choose one of two methods to calculate their home office expense deduction:
- Using the simplified method consisting of a rate of $5 per square foot for business use of the home which is limited to a maximum size of 300 square feet and a maximum deduction $1,500.
- Using the regular method whereby deductions for a home office are based on the percentage of the home devoted to business use. Any use a whole room or part of a room for conducting their business will involve figuring out the percentage of the home used for business activities to deduct indirect expenses. Direct expenses are deducted in full.