Last updated: Thurs 9 Apr 2020
Update: this article now includes references to the ATO’s latest announcement of the ‘shortcut method’ to claim working from home tax expenses.
1) What working from home (WFH) tax deductions can I claim?
In a nutshell, if you are working from home as an employee, you may be able to can claim the following:
- Work related phone and internet costs
- Your work area utilities such as gas and electricity
- The full cost (if up to $300) OR depreciation of home office purchases (such as desks, chairs, computers and monitors)
- Depreciation of fixtures and fittings in your work area
- Cleaning costs of your work area
- Other running expenses including computer consumables (e.g. printer paper, ink and stationery)
Unfortunately you can’t claim your mortgage*, rent*, tea bags, coffee or lunches!
The other consideration you’ll need to apply is whether you have your own dedicated space for working or not (i.e. a separate home office or space). This will impact exactly what expenses you can claim.
Update: with the ATO’s announcement of the new ‘shortcut method’, a dedicated workspace is not required to claim 80 cents per hour fixed rate. This method is only valid for working from home expenses incurred between 1 Mar - 30 Jun 2020. Learn more here.
All these items can be reviewed in more detail in our articles what working from home (WFH) expenses are tax deductible.
2) How do I calculate working from home tax expenses?
Update: this section has been updated to include the ATO’s new ‘shortcut method’ to claim working from home tax expenses.
The ATO allows two ways to calculate your deductions, one simpler than the other:
- you can claim a fixed rate of 52 cents per hour, e.g. the number of hours that you work from home in the tax year multiplied by 52 cents.
- you can calculate your actual expenses, e.g. by working out the amount of actual expense (e.g. phone and internet costs) you used whilst working from home
Update: The ATO announced an additional way to calculate working from home deductions - the ‘shortcut’ or fixed rate of 80 cents per hour method. This method is only applicable for WFH expenses incurred between 1 Mar - 30 Jun 2020. This method is calculated in a similar way the 52 cents per hour method is calculated however it includes all your home office expenses. Learn more here.
Each expense category has different approaches available to calculate the deduction, and these are covered in more detail in this article how to calculate working from home (WFH) deductions.
3) What records do I need to keep for working from home tax deductions?
As you probably know, keeping records is important for your income tax return, and this includes home office expense claims. There is more information on record keeping on both the articles around what you can claim and how you calculate your home office expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
We also asked everyone we knew what the top questions on their mind about working from home, and we have produced this into this list of work from home frequently asked questions (FAQs). Some of our top questions include can I claim my internet, can I claim my morning coffee, and can I claim for building a temporary wall between myself and my kids.
Where to get some assistance
When it comes to tax time, you can include this on your tax return which you can do via Airtax. If you want to have an Accountant check over it then add a Tax Assist onto tax return.
If it all seems too hard and you’d just like to chat to someone, then jump onto one of our 10 minute tax chat to speak to a tax specialist.
* There are a very limited number of situations where you may be able to claim deductions for occupancy expenses (e.g. rent or mortgage interest) as an employee. You can read more about it on the ATO website here. We have included the summary information direct from ATO below:
Employees are generally not able to claim occupancy expenses. You can only claim the work-related proportion of your occupancy expenses in two very limited circumstances where:
- the space in the home is a place of business, and not suitable for domestic use – for example, a doctor or dentist surgery or a hairdresser studio in the home
- no other work location is provided to an employee by an employer and the employee is required to dedicate part of their home to their employer's business as an office – you can claim the portion of these costs that relate to a clearly identified place of business.
This document merely provides a broad outline of the subject and is necessarily general in nature. If you require specific advice, which is tailored to your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us (fees would apply).