Home office
(Getty)
  • Full-time employees who worked from home during lockdown for more than six months over the past year can claim home-office expenses from tax. 
  • Your home office must be specifically equipped for work, though.
  • You can now use an online calculator to calculate the home office expenses you can claim in your tax return.
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If you worked from home during lockdown, you should be able to claim home-office expenses for tax purposes during lockdown.

Typically, people who earn commission and independent contractors claim these expenses.

But due to the lockdown, many full-time employees also worked from home – and so they can also claim for the costs they incurred to do their job at home.

There are a couple of caveats, though:

  • You must have spent more than half of your total working hours working from your home office, says Elani van der Westhuizen, senior tax technical at TaxTim, a digital tax assistant. In effect, this means that you must have worked at home for six months during the tax year. So, if you started to work from home at the end of March, when hard lockdown started, you would have to work from home at least until the end of September.
  • Your home office must be specifically equipped for work - and regularly and exclusively used for such purposes. This means that you must have a dedicated work area – you can’t just use your dining room table for work.
  • You also need a letter from your employer that states that you can work from home and confirms the percentage of time you spent there.

If you meet these requirements, you can claim rent or interest on your bond, repairs to the premises, rates and taxes, water and electricity, cleaning, data usage, wear and tear of office equipment and all other expenses relating to your house only.

To determine your home office deduction, calculate the total square meterage of your home office in relation to the total square meterage of your home and convert this to a percentage. This percentage is then applied to the home office expenditure to calculate the portion that is deductible, Van Der Westhuizen explains. 

TaxTim has designed a calculator that calculates the home office expense you can claim in your tax return:

You can find the online calculator here

It's important that you add these claims to your tax returns, Van der Westhuizen says - the claims will not be listed on a SARS automatic assessment, for example.

This situation is different for sole proprietors or freelancers who work from home because they can automatically deduct all their home office expenses. They also do not have to meet the same stringent conditions to qualify for a deduction.

If you earn commission that is more than 50% of your total salary, you can also claim for other commission-related business expenses, such as a phone, internet, stationery and printer repairs. 

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