The increasing flexibility of our working world over the last few years means that your home is becoming your office. We explain how you can claim your work from home for tax purposes.
- Home office lump sum or separate study?
- What are the requirements for a study?
- Deductible costs of a study
- The home office lump sum: working from home without a separate study
- How to enter the costs in the Taxfix app
Home office lump sum or separate study?
When filing your tax return, it is important to clarify how you work at home.
If you have set up your workplace at home at the kitchen table, in the living room or on the couch, you can claim your work from home for tax purposes with the home office lump sum (Home-Office-Pauschale) introduced in 2020. This means: Regardless of whether there was a study or not, 5 euros per day can be deducted as income-related expenses for the days on which work was done from home.
The concept of a study, on the other hand, is subject to clear conditions and strict requirements. As a rule, this should be a separate room in the flat or house that is only used for working. A corner in the living room or a children's room that has been converted at short notice is usually not sufficient.
Those who want to claim the study in their tax return are usually asked by the tax office to fill out a questionnaire on the home office and submit it in addition. Since the Corona pandemic, many people work from home and try to deduct private rooms as workrooms. The tax office therefore looks very closely. If there are doubts about the existence of a study, the tax office may visit. However, this rarely happens.
To make sure you're on the safe side, we'll explain below exactly which requirements apply, which costs you can deduct and how you can declare the study or the home office lump sum in the Taxfix app.
The good news first: Our app helps you determine your situation with an easy-to-understand series of questions. It lists the deductible items and automatically takes into account possible lump sums and deductible limits. We explain exactly how this works below.
By the way: Students can also deduct the costs of studying at home. You can find more information in this article.
What are the requirements for a study?
Separate study within your own four walls
Your study must belong to your private flat or house. It must also be separated from other rooms by a lockable door. This can also be a room in the cellar or attic, as long as it forms a unit with your flat or house. A simple work corner in the living room is unfortunately not sufficient. Only then can you deduct it as a study and thus your costs.
In addition, there should be at least one other room available for private purposes for each occupant of your flat. Only then is it possible to declare a study in your tax return.
You must use your study for your professional activity. Private use is excluded. If you write private emails once in a while, that's fine. However, if you pursue your hobbies in your study or receive visitors (recognisable, for example, by a bed), the professional use is easily questioned. You may spend no more than 10% of your time in the study for private purposes. If you exceed this share, no tax deduction is possible at all. There are no pro-rata solutions here either.
The employer does not provide another workplace
If your employer does not provide you with a workplace and you do part of your work at home, the deductible costs for your study are limited to 1,250 euros per year.
This applies to teachers, for example. They teach at school, but have to prepare lessons and correct exams at home, because they do not have their own desk or office at school for these tasks. Or field workers who are mainly on site with customers and therefore do not have an office at their employer's premises and therefore have to use their study for certain tasks.
The Taxfix app recognises whether the maximum limit of 1,250 euros applies to you and automatically takes it into account. Below we show you when this is the case.
Centre of professional activity
If you want to deduct more than 1,250 euros per year, you must have your entire centre of work in your home office. This means that you use your study for all professional activities and do not have a workplace provided by your employer. This is the case, for example, for home workers or writers.
The advantage of this is that the expenses may be submitted in the tax return without limitation and on a pro rata basis for the area that the study makes up of the entire flat.
Deductible costs of a study
The following costs are tax-deductible on a pro-rata basis:
- Water, heating and electricity costs
- Cleaning costs
- Costs for furnishing the study
- Repair costs
- Interest on loans
- Property tax
- Building depreciation
The deductible cost share is calculated based on the size of the study. The Taxfix app therefore asks for the size of the study and the entire flat and calculates the cost share automatically.
Costs for furnishing the study can be stated in full:
- Office furniture
Note that for purchased items such as work equipment, depreciation applies. This point is also taken into account by the Taxfix app.
If your study is not recognised by the tax office, you may declare expenses such as office furniture, computers, office supplies, etc. as work equipment.
A new Apple MacBook Pro as a work computer is okay. But a crystal lamp for the ceiling of a study does not seem proportionate. Unfortunately, the tax office does not accept luxury items or decoration. The tax office likes to cancel such items or even completely doubts the existence of a study.
The home office lump sum: working from home without a separate study
Since 2020, you can claim your work from home for tax purposes even if you do not have a separate study. The home office flat rate was introduced for this purpose. This counts as income-related expenses and amounts to 5 euros per day that you work at home, but for a maximum of 120 days per year. This means that you can claim an amount of up to 600 euros.
The advantage of the home office lump sum is that you do not have to submit evidence of the costs.
Note that these costs only affect your tax refund if you exceed the employee lump sum of 1,000 euros (Werbungskostenpauschale). You can read more about what this means here.
How to enter the costs in the Taxfix app
You can enter costs for your home office work in our app in the category "Work".
Simply answer the question "Did you work from home?" with "Yes". You then have the option to enter the costs for your work at home.
Our app distinguishes whether a study was used or not:
Indication of a study
- Answer the question "In which room did you work?" with "Home office room" to record the costs for a separate study
- The question that follows shortly afterwards, "Which work tasks did you do in your home office room?" determines whether you can deduct the costs without limitation or whether the maximum limit of 1,250 euros applies:
- If you answer the question with "Only some work tasks", the app automatically takes the 1,250 euro limit into account in your tax return
- If you answer the question with "All work tasks", the costs are taken into account in full
- The questions on how much you worked from home enable the app to determine whether you meet the requirements for deducting a study. Simply follow the sequence of questions
- Finally, our app asks for all tax-relevant costs for your home office and, where necessary, calculates them proportionally based on the size of the apartment/house and the study
- If the study is not deductible, the app takes the home office lump sum into account
Indication of the home office lump sum
- If you do not answer "Home office room" to the question "In which room did you work?", the home office lump sum is taken into account
- To do this, simply enter the number of days you worked from home. The app automatically calculates and takes into account the flat rate for you
🚨 As a student, you may have to enter your home office costs differently in the Taxfix app. We explain how to do this here.
Also take your home office work into account when entering your commute
Please enter your home office days as "Other days of absence" under the topic "Commuting" so that no additional travel expenses are claimed for these days.
If you worked exclusively from home in the tax year and did not have any travel costs, select the option "I did not use this route this year" in the question about your workplace. In this case, the app does not ask for a commute.