What can I deduct from taxes due to working from home?
The following principle applies: Only the costs that are really incurred can also be deducted. Travel expenses can thus only be deducted if they are incurred and were also necessary. For example, if you live in the same building as you work then you cannot make any tax deductions for your commute to and from work. Therefore, you cannot deduct any travel costs for the days you work from home. An annual pass for the train, for example, can still be deducted in most cantons.
If the costs for a home office are higher than the allowance for “Other professional expenses”, then they can be deducted as effective costs under certain circumstances. The basic rule is that the rental portion of a workroom can only be deducted from taxes if the employee has to do a substantial part of their work at home and their employer does not provide a workplace. In practice, 40% of a full-time workload, i.e. two full days, is considered a substantial part.
For such a deduction to be claimed, the workroom must be used essentially for the exercise of the profession. So if you work in the living room or bedroom, no deduction can be claimed. Since the conditions are strict, it is to be expected that a sofa bed in your home office would not be allowed either, although there are other voices on this matter.
How do I calculate the rent for my home office?
There are various formulas for this:
- Rental value + service charges divided by number of rooms + 2
- Net imputed rental value plus 10 percent service charges / number of rooms plus 1
- Rental costs or rental value + additional costs/number of rooms + 2.
Find out from your cantonal tax office which formula applies.
If the above-mentioned home office conditions are met, infrastructure costs can also be deducted from taxes. However, this is only possible if they are not reimbursed by the employer.
In many cantons, these two cost items are already covered by the flat rate for other professional expenses.
In the cantons LU, GL, AR, SG, and VS, the actual costs can also be deducted, but these costs must then be proven.
What has to be taken into account:
Although many employees work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic and can make the abovementioned deductions, it should be noted that other deductions cannot be made: This applies, in particular, to flat-rate professional expenses (e.g. costs for public transportation and lunch).
If you worked short-time working hours and worked 50% instead of 100%, for example, then the professional expenses are reduced accordingly.
It should also be mentioned that the Zurich cantonal tax office declared in a communication dated March 26, 2021, that these professional expenses can be deducted independently of the coronavirus crisis, but that no home office costs can be deducted for them (this was also imposed for the 2020 tax year). This is apparently also the practice in other cantons (e.g. Fribourg, Lucerne, Solothurn, Basel-Landschaft).