Can you claim building a home office?

Can you claim building a home office?
Entire workforces that previously commuted to and from the office every day have now started working from home, and when the dust settles, it’s likely we’ll see large swathes of our working population stay this way.
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Are home offices tax deductible?

The way we work is fundamentally changing thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Entire workforces that previously commuted to and from the office every day have now started working from home, and when the dust settles, it’s likely we’ll see large swathes of our working population stay this way.

So if you plan to keep working from home in the future, or just want to optimise your current setup, here’s what you need to know.

How much does it cost to build a home office?

A 2015 report by Regus (a multinational provider of serviced offices and co-working spaces) found the average Australian spends $240 a month to run their home office, which includes the cost of equipment. That’s just under $3,000 per year (likely to be more now), and doesn’t factor in the cost of actually setting up a home office, which workers at small businesses say can cost more than a third of their monthly salary.

Some of the tech you’ll need can be very costly too:

  • A cheap printer can cost between $100-$200

  • Cheap scanners can cost around $50, better ones can cost around $150

  • Cheap monitors can cost around $150-$200, better ones can cost $400-$500

  • Laptops can cost anything from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars

  • Desktop computers can easily cost upwards of $500

  • A high standard office chair can cost upwards of $200-$300

So no, this stuff isn’t cheap if you want to do it properly.

The good news is you can get some of this money back: Employees who regularly work from home are able to claim tax deductions on work-related expenses.

What can you claim for home offices?

According to the Australian Taxation Office, here are some of the things you can claim when working from home:

  • Home office equipment like computers, printers and furniture (the full cost of these items up to $300, and depreciation of items up to $300)

  • Heating, cooling and lighting costs

  • The costs of repairs to your home office equipment

  • Work-related phone & internet expenses

  • Occupancy expenses (if your home is your principal place of work)

You can claim these running expenses by either using a fixed rate of 52 cents per hour worked at home (the easier way), or by keeping a record or diary of each hour worked and the costs you’ve incurred working.

You can’t generally claim your entire internet bill, for example: You need to prove which portion of your bill was used for work purposes. So be sure to keep accurate records of receipts for any expenses you want to claim as a deduction.

The ATO has more information here, as well as a home office expenses calculator.

What do you need for a good home office?

Unless you want to be uncomfortable, unproductive and angry, you can’t just prop an ancient laptop on top of a cardboard box and expect to get any work done. To be your best working self at home for the duration of this crisis (and after), you’ll need some or all of the following things

  • A scanner and/or a printer

  • Cord organisers and extension cords

  • A good headset

  • A good computer

  • A good monitor (dual screen is the way to go baby)

  • Powerful internet

  • A comfortable chair

  • A view

  • And a dedicated workspace

That last one is probably the most important, and it doesn’t just mean putting a chair in your kitchen. An actual room, like a study, that has each of those other things in it will help you feel like you're actually at work psychologically, as well as providing a barrier between work and home.

How to finance a new home office renovation

Given all this, creating a home office (or doing renovations to add one to your home) can easily cost thousands of dollars. If you want to create a new home office for yourself and don’t have thousands in savings to pay for it, you may want to consider getting finance.

For larger and more expensive renovations like pools ($100,000+), you might have to use something like a construction loan, but for something like a home office renovation you can pay for it with:

loans.com.au provides both of these options to help you fund your home office - talk to one of our loan specialists today to get started.

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