More Employees are Working at Home – What You Can Deduct for Home Office Expenses!

Home office expenses can only be deducted if the taxpayer meets the conditions described by section 8(13) of the Act. In order to deduct home office expenses, the workspace must either be:

  1. The place where the individual principally (i.e. more than 50% of time) performs the office or employment duties; or;
  2. Used exclusively during the period of which the expenses related to earn income from the office or employment and used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting clients or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the office or employment duties.

The phrase “meeting customers” is not defined in the Act. Therefore, it is generally relied on case law and the ordinary meaning. Some informal Tax Court of Canada decisions have held that the phrase “meeting customers” may include meetings held by telephone; however, section 18.28 of the Tax Court of Canada Act states that information Tax Court of Canada decisions should not be treated as a precedent for any other case. Given the technology advancement and the COVID-19 situation, online meetings became the norm and the government should reconsider the applicable meaning of “meeting customers”.

Eligible home office expenses

If the above conditions are met, the deductible home office expenses include:

  • Utilities,
  • Maintenance,
  • Home supplies, and minor repairs,
  • Long-distance telephone calls and airtime (fixed telephone line and monthly internet access fees are not deductible).

Additional expenses are deductible for commission remunerated employees, which include:

  • Home insurance, and
  • Property tax.

(In all cases, mortgage interest and capital cost allowance are not deductible.)

In calculating the home office expenses, a reasonable basis such as base on the percentage use (i.e. square footage) or direct usage method should be used if the expenses incurred only for the workspace.

The maximum amount of the home office expenses that an individual can deduct is limited to the amount of employment income in the year. The employee can carry forward the undeducted portion in the following year against employment income received from the same employer.

Supporting documentation

T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment completed and signed by the employer, with the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The contract of employment required the employee to pay the expenses so incurred,
  • The employee was ordinarily required to carry on the duties of employment away from the employer’s place of business,
  • The employee was remunerated in whole or in part by commissions or other similar amounts fixed by reference to the volume of the sale made or the contracts negotiated, and
  • The employee was not in receipt of an allowance for travel expenses that was excluded from income by virtue of subparagraph 6(1)(b)(v).

This article is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.  Income tax law and regulation change frequently and the content on this article may no longer reflect the current state of the law. If you have any specific questions, you should consult a professional services advisor or email leo@awkcpa.com or alfred@awkcpa.com for further advice.