Q My employer has closed its local regional office as a cost cutting measure and I now have to work from home. Are there any costs that I can claim as an allowable deduction against my tax? SD, Londonderry
A It is increasingly popular and feasible for employees to work from home and provided you meet a specific set of criteria you can claim relief for certain home-related expenses.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stipulate that to qualify for this relief, the employee must have no option but to work from home. As your regional office has closed you should qualify, provided that the commute to the head office would be in excess of a ‘normal’ daily commute and the duties performed from home are those that must be completed in order to fulfil your job requirement.
The expenses that you may claim are:
business telephone calls;
business use of ‘dial up’ internet;
additional unit costs of gas and electricity;
metered cost of water used in the performance of your duties;
business mileage from your home; and
any other expense incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily for the purpose of your employment (e.g. stationery costs, printer and consumables if not supplied by your employer).
It is important that you retain any supporting documentation for these expenses as HMRC may challenge them and how they were calculated. However, you may claim £3 per week with out having to justify the expense to HMRC.
It is not possible to claim relief on any flat rate charges that would be paid regardless of whether or not you are working from home for example rates, rent, mortgage repayments or home insurance. If the expense incurred has another purpose, for example you need food to live rather than to work, then you will not be able to claim this expense as a deduction.
Please note, if you simply choose to work from home the above criteria are not met they and you will not be able to claim relief for any of the above expenses.