The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced special arrangements due to COVID-19, to make it easier for people to claim deductions for working from home. The new arrangement will allow people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses.
(Please note for specific taxation advice regarding your situation, please speak to your registered taxation professional)
You can claim a deduction of 80 cents for each hour you work from home due to COVID-19 as long as you are:
- working from home to fulfil your employment duties and not just carrying out minimal tasks such as occasionally checking emails or taking calls,
- incurring additional deductible running expenses as a result of working from home.
You do not have to have a separate or dedicated area of your home set aside for working, such as a private study.
The shortcut method rate covers all deductible running expenses, including:
- electricity for lighting, cooling or heating and running electronic items used for work (for example your computer), and gas heating expenses
- the decline in value and repair of capital items, such as home office furniture and furnishings
- cleaning expenses
- your phone costs, including the decline in value of the handset
- your internet costs
- computer consumables, such as printer ink
- the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device.
You do not have to incur all of these expenses, but you must have incurred additional expenses in some of those categories as a result of working from home due to COVID-19.
If you use the shortcut method to claim a deduction for your additional running expenses, you cannot claim a further deduction for any of the expenses listed above.
You must keep a record of the number of hours you have worked from home as a result of COVID-19. Examples are timesheets, diary notes or rosters.
If you use the shortcut method to claim a deduction and you lodge your 2019-20 tax return through myGov or a tax agent, you must include the note ‘COVID-hourly rate’ in your tax return.
Records you must keep
If you use the shortcut method, you only need to keep a record of the hours you worked at home, for example timesheets or diary notes.
If you use the other methods, you must also keep a record of the number of hours you worked from home along with records of your expenses. For more information on what those records are see Home office expenses.
For more information, visit ato.gov.au/home or speak to a registered tax professional.