If you buy a new computer and related equipment, you can deduct them in your tax return. Here we explain what you need to pay attention to and how you can enter the costs in the Taxfix app.

Before that, the good news: our app makes it easier for you to enter the information by asking you for all the relevant key data and automatically calculating the deductible costs for you.

Content:

Professional use as a prerequisite

Can I deduct the full costs?

How do I prove professional use?

Regulation until 2020: Depreciation of the computer over several years

New regulation from 2021: immediate depreciation in the year of purchase

Do not forget: Keep receipts

How do I enter the costs in the Taxfix app?


Professional use as a prerequisite

If you buy a new computer or laptop and use it for professional purposes, the device is considered work equipment. You can then claim all or part of the purchase costs against tax. Purchase for professional reasons and professional use are prerequisites for entering the expenses as income-related expenses in your tax return.

Professional use also exists, among other things, if you use the computer for the following purposes:

  • Answering work-related emails

  • research for work

  • Writing job applications

You can also deduct equipment that is part of the operation of a computer if you use it for your job. This includes for example:

  • Mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer

  • cables, USB stick

  • Printer paper, toner cartridge

  • Software

Can I deduct the full costs?

If you want to deduct the full acquisition costs, you must use the computer almost exclusively, i.e. at least 90%, for professional purposes.

But even if you use the computer partly for private purposes, you can deduct part of the costs. The costs must be divided according to the respective use, e.g. 50% private and 50% professional use. You can then enter the share of the costs for professional use in your tax return.

How do I prove professional use?

In order to be able to deduct your own computer, you must be able to prove professional use for the tax office. This can be done in a variety of ways:

PC logbook

Write down the date, time and purpose of use. Of course, this requires a lot of effort - that's why documentation over 3 months is often sufficient.

Estimate

Usuallly, a list of the professional work done on the privately used computer is sufficient.

50:50 use

If it cannot be proven exactly how much professional use one's own PC has, the tax office usually recognises 50% of the costs. Nevertheless, it is essential to provide credible evidence of professional use.

Regulation until 2020: Depreciation of the computer over several years

Certain depreciation rules apply to computers until 2020:

You can deduct the full purchase price of the computer in the year of purchase as long as it does not exceed a certain limit. The following values apply:

  • For a purchase before 2018: the price did not exceed 487.90 euros gross

  • For a purchase from 2018: the price did not exceed 952 euros gross

  • For a purchase in 2020: the price did not exceed 1,190 euros gross

If the acquisition costs were higher, they must be written off over several years. This means that the costs can only be claimed for tax on a pro rata basis in several years.

The calculation of the proportion of costs that can be written off per year for a computer is based on its usual life cycle. This duration of use of certain work equipment is defined in the so-called AfA tables ("Absetzung für Abnutzung") of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

For computers, a duration of use of 3 years applies until 2020. This means that you have to write off the acquisition costs over a period of 3 years or 36 months. You calculate the pro rata costs per month and can thus determine how much you can deduct per tax year.

Sounds complicated? The Taxfix app calculates the depreciation amounts for you automatically. Below we explain how you can easily enter your computer in the app.

Example: How to write off a computer

You bought a computer in March 2018 for 1,008 euros gross. As an IT specialist at home, you use it entirely for work. The normal duration of use of a computer is 3 years, i.e. 36 months. The computer is therefore written off at a monthly rate of 28 euros over a 3-year period:

Purchase price:

1,008 euros gross

Duration of use of a computer according to AfA table:

3 years or 36 months

Date of purchase:

March 2018

Amount to write off per month:

1,008 euros / 36 months = 28 euros

You can now deduct the computer per year, staggered to the exact month:

Duration of use

Annual amount to write off

March 2018 - December 2018 (10 months)

280 euros

January 2019 - December 2019 (12 months)

336 euros

January 2020 - December 2020 (12 months)

336 euros

January 2021 - February 2021 (2 months)

56 euros

overall 36 months

overall 1,008 euros

For 2018, you can deduct 280 euros of the total purchase costs for the computer. For 2019 and 2020, this is 336 euros and for 2021, 56 euros.

New regulation from 2021: immediate depreciation in the year of purchase

From 2021, computers will have a new duration of use of only one year instead of the previous three years. This means that depreciation over several years is no longer necessary.

In concrete terms this means: If you have bought a new computer in 2021 or in a later year that you use for work, you can claim the entire costs for tax purposes in the year of purchase.

Example:

You bought a computer worth 1,500 euros gross in 2021.

  • If you use it exclusively for business purposes, you can claim 1,500 euros in your tax return for 2021

  • If you use it 50% for business purposes, you can deduct half of it, i.e. 750 euros, in your tax return for 2021

The new regulation also affects depreciation of computers purchased in previous years: for purchases in 2019 and 2020, you do not have to continue to depreciate over 3 years in 2021. Instead, you can claim the entire residual value in your 2021 tax return.

Do not forget: Keep receipts

You don't need to send receipts for computers and other equipment immediately with your tax return. Otherwise, the tax office will have too many documents and will not be able to process them quickly. That's why you should keep receipts and vouchers and only submit them in the event of queries from the tax office.

How do I enter the costs in the Taxfix app?

Our app facilitates the depreciation of computers and other work equipment by calculating the depreciation amounts per tax year independently. You simply enter the relevant key data in the course of the questions - what was purchased, when and at what price. The app then determines whether depreciation is necessary or not and takes the corresponding costs into account.

I bought the computer in the current tax year

You can enter the purchase costs for a computer or laptop in the Taxfix app in the category "Work".

If you bought the computer in the tax year you're working on, you'll record the costs as follows:

  • Answer the question, "Did you buy any of these items for work in 20xx?" with "Computer or laptop"

  • Select applicable for the question "Did you also use your computer for private purposes?". If you indicate here that you also used your computer for private purposes, it is assumed that you used it 50% for work purposes and 50% for private purposes

  • Finally, record the full purchase costs and, if necessary, the date of purchase. If you indicated that you used the computer partially for private purposes, the app automatically reduces the costs by half

I bought the computer in a previous year

If you bought the computer in a previous year and now want to continue to write it off, enter the cost as follows:

  • Answer the question: "Did you buy any of these items in previous years?" with "Computer or laptop”

  • Enter the key data such as date of purchase and price. The app will automatically calculate the partial costs that can be deducted


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