Many workers new “normal” is working full time from home, as a result of the Social Distancing measures in response to Covid-19. In order to make it easier for individual taxpayers to claim deductions for additional running expenses incurred (e.g., additional heating, cooling and lighting costs), the ATO have announced a temporary short cut method of claiming deductions. Refer to the ATO’s Media Release of 7 April 2020.
Based on the announcement, the ATO will allow individuals to claim a deduction for all running expenses incurred during the period 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, based on a rate of 80 cents for each hour an individual carries out genuine work duties from home. This is an alternative method to claiming home running expenses under existing arrangements, which generally require an analysis of specific running expenses incurred and more onerous record-keeping.
Working from home claims for 1 March to 30 June
There are three ways that you can choose to calculate your additional running expenses for the 1 March – 30 June period:
- claim a rate of 80 cents per work hour for all additional running expenses.
- claim a rate of 52 cents per work hour for heating, cooling, lighting, cleaning and the decline in value of office furniture, plus calculate the work-related portion of your phone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery and the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device
- claim the actual work-related portion of all your running expenses, which you need to calculate on a reasonable basis.
The ATO is also reminding people that the three golden rules for deductions still apply. Taxpayers must have spent the money themselves and not have been reimbursed, the claim must be directly related to earning income, and there must be a record to substantiate the claim.
Working from home before 1 March 2020
Claims for working from home expenses prior to 1 March 2020 should be calculated using the existing approaches and are subject to the existing requirements.
The 80 cents per hour method is designed to cover all deductible running expenses associated with working from home and incurred from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, including the following:
- Electricity expenses associated with heating, cooling and lighting the area at home which is being used for work.
- Cleaning costs for a dedicated work area.
- Phone and internet expenses.
- Computer consumables (e.g., printer paper and ink) and stationery.
- Depreciation of home office furniture and furnishings (e.g., an office desk and a chair).
- Depreciation of home office equipment (e.g., a computer and a printer).
This means that, under the 80 cents per hour method, separate claims cannot be made for any of the above running expenses (including depreciation of work-related furniture and equipment). As a result, using the 80 cents per hour method could result in a claim for running expenses being lower than a claim under existing arrangements (including the existing 52 cents per hour method for certain running expenses).
Furthermore, according to the ATO’s announcement, under the 80 cents per hour method:
(a) there is no requirement to have a separate or dedicated area at home set aside for working (e.g., a private study);
(b) multiple people living in the same house could claim under this method (e.g., a couple living together could each individually claim running expenses they have incurred while genuinely working from home, based on the 80 cents per hour method); and
(c) an individual will only be required to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home as a result of the Coronavirus, during the above period. This record can include time sheets, diary entries/notes or even rosters.
Please also refer the the ATO fact sheet on records and documentation required to prove work from home claims.