Here’s who can claim the home-office tax deduction on their 2021 tax return.
Millions of Americans began working remotely or from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Others decided to take the leap amid the “Great Resignation,” start their own business and become their own boss in 202
But who is able to claim the home-office tax deduction?
The general rule is this: Those who are self-employed and working out of their homes may be eligible for the tax break. People who work remotely but get a W-2 tax form from their employer don’t qualify.
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“Knowing that you’re not a 9-to-5 [worker] anymore, you can now take advantage of the home-office deduction” if you’re eligible, said Sheneya Wilson, CPA and founder of Fola Financial in New York, adding that it’s one of the biggest deductions that people who work out of their homes can take.
Who can claim the deduction
There are some parameters when it comes to who is eligible for the home-office deduction, even though millions of Americans worked from home in 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
The tax break is generally only for those who are self-employed, gig workers, or independent contractors, not those who are employed by a company that gives them a W-2 come tax season.
“Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the IRS said in a September 2020 reminder on the home-office deduction.
There may be some confusion, as the home-office deduction was previously allowed for employees. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, however, banned such workers from taking the deduction from 2018 to 2025.
To claim the home-office deduction in 2021, taxpayers must exclusively and regularly use part of their home or a separate structure on their property as their primary place of business. This includes a place where you greet clients or customers, conduct your business, store inventory, rent out or use as a daycare facility.
You don’t have to be a homeowner to claim the deduction — apartments are eligible, as are mobile homes, boats or other similar properties, according to the IRS.
It’s also possible to take only part of the deduction. For example, if you left a 9-to-5 job, started your own business in 2021 and use your home as your primary office space, you may be able to claim the deduction for part of the year, according to Wilson.
How the tax break works
There are two ways eligible taxpayers can calculate the home-office deduction.
In the simplified version, you can take $5 per square foot of your home office up to 300 square feet, giving the method a $1,500 cap.
This home office needs to be used only for your business — as in, it can’t be a guest room with a desk in it — and you must be able to prove that you need an office for your work. The burden of proof for taking this deduction is on the taxpayer, so if you’re audited, you will have to back up your claim to the IRS.