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Article Mar 21

Important tax tips for the home office

Our tax tips show you how you can deduct your home office from your taxes.

Which costs for the purchase of an office chair and other work equipment in a home office are tax deductible? Who bears the costs and is the home office also supported by the state? The most important home office tax tips at a glance.

Even before the Corona virus, home office and mobile working played a role in many companies. But at the latest since the pandemic and the resulting temporary introduction of the home office obligation (since 1 July 2021 there is no longer a home office obligation in Germany), it has become clear to everyone else that the home office is here to stay. But, especially if you work a lot in your home office, you definitely need good office equipment. An ergonomic office chair, for example, should be a MUST. After all, a makeshift kitchen table and chair is very unhealthy in the long run and concentrated work is not possible. When it comes to the home office, one question inevitably arises for many employees: How can I deduct tax on the home office? We explain it to you.

Home office tax tips for employees

1. purchase of an office chair by the employer

First of all, this is the best and most cost-effective option for you. If your employer provides you with an office chair (preferably an ergonomic one) for your home office, you may also use it privately in addition to your professional activities. This equipment for your study is tax-free. This means that you do not have to declare the office chair to the tax office as a benefit in kind from your employer and pay tax on it.

2. agreeing on a home office expense allowance with the employer

Your employer can also support your home office equipment with a subsidy of up to 1,500 euros. This home office allowance also covers, for example, the use of the private telephone and internet connection. This means that you can of course also use this lump sum to buy office furniture. To clarify the home office arrangements with your employer, either speak directly to the responsible person in the HR department or first contact your head of department.

3. home office flat rate as income-related expenses in the tax return

In order to relieve the tax burden on employees, the Federal Government introduced the so-called home office flat rate in the course of the Annual Tax Act 2020. This home office flat rate sets the following:

  • Employees who pursue their professional activities in their home office receive a flat rate of 5 euros per day. However, the maximum amount is 600 euros per year.
  • For the daily flat rate, it is irrelevant whether your boss has ordered you to work from home or whether you work from home voluntarily.
  • The flat rate only counts if you worked exclusively from home during the working day. If you were in the office for an appointment, for example, this day can no longer be claimed as a home office per diem.
  • The home office flat rate counts as income-related expenses and must be entered accordingly in the tax return.
  • Initially, the new home office allowance is limited for 2020 and 2021

Important tax tips for the home office. Tax deductions for purchases for the home office.
Your equipment for working at home - for example, your office chair - is tax deductible.

Important: In order for working in a home office to have a positive effect on your tax return, the total income-related expenses must exceed the annual lump sum of 1,000 euros in income-related expenses. This amount can be claimed as a lump sum for tax purposes anyway, even if you have not incurred any income-related expenses.

That's why buying an ergonomic office chair for your home office is doubly worthwhile. Firstly, for your health - your back will thank you - and secondly, from a tax perspective. If you buy the office chair for your home office on your own account, it can be claimed as income-related expenses for tax purposes. This is also possible if you do not have your own study, i.e. only a work corner or similar.

An office chair is considered a low-value asset (GWG). The acquisition amount for a GWG is 800 euros net. The office chair may therefore be deducted in full in the year of acquisition for a purchase price of up to 800 euros net. 

What you have to pay attention to: If the office furniture costs more than 800 euros net, you have to distribute the costs over the expected useful life. As a rule, this is 13 years. This is the officially stipulated service life for office furniture. And even if you use the office chair for private use for more than 10 percent of the total period of use, you can only deduct the costs from the tax office on a pro-rata basis.

Of course, other costs such as rent, electricity and heating for a home office can still be claimed proportionately against tax. Work equipment can also always be declared and deducted in the tax return.

Ergonomic office chair Aeris Swopper. Tax deduction of acquisition costs for the home office.
When buying your office chair, it is important to make sure that it - costs less than 800 euros. like here for example the Aeris Swopper - costs less than 800 euros, so that you can deduct the costs at once.

4. declaration as extraordinary burdens in the tax return

Another option for claiming the cost of an ergonomic office chair in your tax return is the so-called "extraordinary burden". This applies if there are medical reasons for a healthy, ergonomic active office chair. This is the case, for example, if you have had an operation or an accident, or as a measure after a slipped disc or similar. However, the limit of reasonableness according to § 33 EStG must be exceeded. For singles without children with an income of up to 15,340 euros, this limit is five percent of total income. In this case, expenses of more than 767 euros per year are tax-deductible.

Documentation is important - collect receipts

As with all tax matters, it is also advisable to carefully keep all receipts for purchases when working from home. In addition, you should document the workplace situation on different days and at different times by taking a photo. A certificate from your employer for the home office duty required during the corona period (if possible with date and number of hours) can also be very helpful.

Home office tax tips for freelancers and the self-employed

For freelancers and self-employed persons, a regulation was already in place before the Corona Year, with which purchases such as office chairs and desks are deductible. Since 2018, new office equipment up to a net purchase price of 800 euros can be fully deducted from tax in the year of purchase. However, if the purchase price exceeds 800 euros, the purchase no longer falls under the limit for low-value assets (GWG) and must be depreciated over 13 years as office furniture according to the Afa table of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Home office tax tips for companies

The following also applies to companies: If the acquisition costs for an office chair amount to up to 800 euros, an immediate deduction of operating expenses can be made within the framework of the regulation for low-value assets according to § 6 para. 2 EStG.

Another tax advantage arises when the expenditure for a larger number of office furniture items with acquisition costs between € 250 and € 1,000 is pooled. Then a so-called pooling solution is possible: entrepreneurs may bundle the above-mentioned assets in a collective item and depreciate them over five years. In concrete terms, this means: a company that now buys 20 high-quality office chairs worth 800 euros each can write off 16,000 euros for tax purposes for this year - or 3,200 euros each for five years.

Good to know: Despite the Corona crisis, you can kill two birds with one stone. Entrepreneurs invest in the health and performance of their employees with back-strengthening and movement-promoting office chairs and at the same time reduce their tax burden.

Home office costs: More financial support from employers and the state desired

In addition to the tax deductibility of the workplace in one's own home, the question of subsidies from employers and the state for the home office also arises again and again.

According to a 2020 home office study conducted by Aeris with 2,000 respondents, more than a third of employees expect both their employer and the state to contribute more to the costs of a home office workplace. But why is more state support necessary? Two thirds of those surveyed already complain about health problems in the home office and have therefore already invested at their own expense in an ergonomic office chair or a height-adjustable desk, for example.

Home office: The chart shows that a large proportion of employees would like more support from the state and employers.
More than 35 percent of respondents would like to see more financial support from the state and employers for home office equipment.

When working in a home office, many employees still have to improvise. For many, the kitchen or dining room table is converted into a desk and the kitchen chair into an office chair. This could be improved by a state subsidy for the purchase of ergonomically correct office equipment. According to the Aeris study, 54 per cent of those surveyed have significantly worse office furniture in their home office than in the office. The consequence: health problems, such as Back pain, tension in the neck and shoulder area or headaches.

Only 18 per cent of those surveyed had their home office fully equipped by their employer, while 27 per cent had part of the costs reimbursed by their employer. However, 20 per cent bear the costs for furniture and technology in the home office themselves. 37 percent of the study participants expect more financial support from their company for the equipment. And 35 per cent of the respondents also see it as the duty of the federal government to contribute to the costs of the Corona-related home office, for example, through further tax benefits.

State funding "go-digital" for SMEs

However, the state is not completely inactive when it comes to home office support. With the funding programme "go digital", for example, the federal government supports small and medium-sized enterprises as well as craft enterprises in setting up digital structures for home office workplaces. Up to 50 percent of the costs can be covered.

Further information on the "go digital" funding programme and where you can apply for funding, can be found here.

The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) is also currently offering a funding programme: The BAFA Corona Consultancy. In this programme, a BAFA-funded business consultant supports companies in digitally adapting to the new working world in the home office as well as in further business planning. Companies that have run into difficulties due to Corona are entitled to BAFA funding for the establishment of home office workplaces. The counselling is subsidised up to a maximum amount of 2,700 euros.

Further information on the BAFA funding programme and the application, can be found here.

Disclaimer: Please note that we are not permitted to provide tax or legal advice and no tax or legal advice is provided with this information. It is merely general information about the products we offer, which must be adapted to the individual circumstances of each case and assessed from a tax and legal perspective. Please obtain advice tailored to your circumstances from your tax or legal advisor before making any decisions on matters arising in connection with our products. No liability is accepted.

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