A guide to claiming home office expenses for remote workers

A guide to claiming home office expenses for remote workers

The world of business has moved remote for many companies large and small. This means employees are able to work from wherever they feel most comfortable. One of the perks of designating a room entirely for the function of what SARS calls “trade” is that you’re able to claim your home office expenses. 

These claims may feel a little mysterious if finance is not your thing, or if you leave your tax e-filing to the very last minute. Which is why at RecruitMyMom we decided that this article will make the information accessible and palatable for you. 

Go ahead and share this guide with your co-workers and with your employees. Use it as a reference tool to help you with claiming your home office expenses. 

What are the requirements for claiming home office expenses?

It may seem like a great idea to claim your remote or hybrid working expenditure back, after all, working remotely does end up costing you something. Take a look at these requirements before you go ahead and start the claiming process.

Designated room area

The workspace you are able to claim for needs to be 100% dedicated to your work. If you’re a freelancer this is already given, however, if you’re employed by a company you will need to use the space primarily for work and trade only. There cannot be any other appliances or furnishings in the space even if you are only plan on claiming half of the room. There needs to be a separation between your workspace and any other functions. Not so much as a spare bed, or baby changing station can be present in the space. 

Expenses that are primarily for office use only

The expenses you claim will be worked out according to specific percentages and calculations provided by SARS or your accountant. Claiming expenses outside of the primary office space use at home is not relevant.  

50% of work time is spent at your home desk

You will need to conduct at least 50% of your work hours at this particular working station. If you are a hybrid worker or your job is to be out and about, then make sure you use your desk for 50% of the time that you are working from home. You can evaluate your situation using this questionnaire.

The space must be equipped with work space needs

If you need a printer, printing paper, stationery, telephone, fax machine or any other work-related equipment, these items need to be present in the home office for it to qualify. 

Guidelines for claiming: what can you claim for?

Whatever is used for office and remote working purposes. The list we have below is just the types of expenses that you may incur.  These might qualify for claiming when you are running an office at home. 

  • Rental, rates, electricity and taxes

  • Repairs and maintenance 

  • Cleaning costs

  • Office equipment and furniture

  • Phones, internet and stationary

Keep your records accurately 

To cover your bases when claiming home office expenses, make sure you keep accurate records of all the relevant documents. You’ll want to keep a file with bank statements, invoices, paychecks as well as other documents such as a letter from your employer and photographs of your office space as well as a house floor plan. These documents will be useful and save you time, especially if they decide to audit your space.

Reasons people would choose not to claim

We would be skipping our due diligence if we didn’t just mention some of the reasons why remote workers would choose not to claim. At the end of the day it’s your responsibility and choice as to whether or not you decide to claim.

A lot of extra administration

Keeping extra records, looking after your e-filing, calculating and submitting an accurate record of your work-from-home expenditure will cost you in extra admin, mental capacity and time. Claiming these particular expenses calls for being above reproach across the board. 

Audit selection and home visits from SARS

SARS has the right to select various claimants for an audit or even a home visit so that they can inspect your home office situation. If you are selected for an audit or home visit, it will take time and you’ll need to make sure you have everything in order to avoid possible penalties. This process may not be worth the amount you’d be able to claim. 

The effects on Capital Gains Tax

If you are working from a home office on a property that you own, claiming home office expenses can influence your Capital Gains Tax should you ever choose to sell your property. If your primary residence includes a remote working set up then the amounts you can claim will be valued against a split between primary residence and the business used space. 

Whether you choose to claim your work from home expenses as a remote worker or not, we trust this guide will point you in the right direction. If you are an employer, why not share this with your employees? After all, it’s important to look out for them and equip them with the tools and information they need to do their jobs well.

Written by the RecruitMyMom Editorial Team

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