There’s a new normal towards how Australians are approaching their work, with remote working now a more viable option for businesses and their employees, and it’s affecting the way that Australians now make claims for tax.

With many businesses affected by city-wide lockdowns during parts of the 2020-21 financial year, and some whose employees preferring to remain as work-from-home or remote workers after theirs had ended, it’s more important than ever for work tax deductions to be correctly claimed and the process duly followed.

Where once the expenses and claims that needed to be made during tax return season could be more clearly defined in terms of business or pleasure, work-related expenses or personal expenditure, remote working and work-from-home employees need to keep careful records of what they can and cannot claim as “home office expenses”.

To simplify the process of claiming these expenses, the ATO introduced a “shortcut method” applicable to the 2020-21 financial year as a result of the impact COVID-19 has had. This method is only applicable from 1 March 2020 through 30 June 2021. Depending on an individual’s circumstances, it may be a better alternative to employ when claiming home office expenses than the fixed rate method or actual cost method.

Essentially, individuals can claim a fixed rate of $0.80 per hour worked from home, with the aforementioned shortcut method covering expenses such as phone, internet, depreciation on furniture & equipment. No other expenses can be claimed for working from home if this shortcut method is employed.

To use this method to their benefit when claiming home office deductions, individuals must keep a diligent record of the actual hours worked at home. This is a simpler process than claiming on the actual expenses incurred. Claiming on the actual expenses incurred requires individuals to comply with the necessary and more complex record-keeping requirements outlined by the ATO.

It is important that Australians are aware of their entitlements and tax deductions when working from home/remotely. Speak with us to ensure that you are in compliance with your tax return obligations when claiming.