The Australian Tax Office has announced special arrangements that will allow employees working from home to easily claim running expenses such as electricity, air conditioning and computer maintenance.
Beginning from March 1 this year, employees forced to work from home as a result of COVID-19 restrictions will be able to claim a fixed-rate deduction of 80 cents per hour for all of their running expenses.
EXPLAINED:What you can claim on tax now that you’re working from home
The ATO has said that due to coronavirus restrictions, employees would no longer be required to prove a “dedicated work from home area”.
“The shortcut method provides a rate of 80 cents per hour and will only require you to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat.
“This recognises that many taxpayers are working from home for the first time and makes claiming a deduction much easier.
“If you choose to use this shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim.”
Theoretically, if an employee works five eight-hour shifts from Monday to Friday, they would be able to claim $6.40 a day in running expenses or $32 a week.
The shortcut 80 cents method is only applicable to hours worked from home on March 1 until the end of the financial year – for hours before that date the previous methods would have to be applied.
It’s a welcome move for workers who feel anxious around tax time, but the ATO is careful to remind Australians that they can only claim for money they are owed.
“The ATO is also reminding people that the three golden rules for deductions still apply,” the Tax Office warned.
“Taxpayers must have spent the money themselves and not have been reimbursed, the claim must be directly related to earning income, and there must be a record to substantiate the claim.”
The ATO has also established an Emergency Support infoline during COVID-19 for taxpayers, which is reachable on 1800 806 218.
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