What’s the Deal with Working from Home?
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has updated its approach to how you claim expenses for working from home.
The ATO has ‘refreshed’ the way you can claim deductions for the costs you incur when you work from home. From 1 July 2022 onwards, you can choose either to use a new ‘fixed rate’ method (67 cents per hour), or the ‘actual cost’ method depending on what works out best for your scenario. Either way, you will need to gather and retain certain records to make a claim.
The first issue for claiming any deduction is that there must be a link between the costs you incurred and the way you earn your income. If you incur an expense but it doesn’t relate to your work, or only partially relates to your work, you cannot claim the full cost as a deduction.
The second key issue is that you need to incur costs associated with working from home. For example, if you are living with your parents and not picking up any of the expenses for running the home then you can’t claim deductions for working from home as you have not incurred the expenses, even if you are paying board (the ATO treats this as a private arrangement).
It’s clear that working from home arrangements are here to stay for many workplaces even though COVID restrictions have eased. So, from the 202223 financial year onwards, the ATO has combined the previous two fixed rate methods to create one revised method accessible by anyone working from home, regardless of whether they have a dedicated space or are just working at the kitchen table.
The new rate is 67 cents per hour and covers your energy expenses (electricity and gas), phone usage (mobile and home), internet, stationery, and computer consumables. You can separately claim the cost of the decline in value of assets such as computers, repairs, and if there is more than one person working from the same home, each person can make a claim using the fixed rate method if they meet the basic eligibility conditions.
What proof do the ATO need that I am working from home?
To use the fixed rate method, you will need a record of all the hours you worked from home. The ATO has warned that it will no longer accept estimates or a sample diary over a four week period. For example, if you normally work from home on Mondays but one day you have an in-person meeting outside of your home, your diary should show that you did not work from home for at least a portion of that day.
Having said that, the ATO will allow taxpayers to keep a record which is representative of the total number of hours worked from home during the period from 1 July 2022 to 28 February 2023.