Rules for deducting a home office

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Q. All my income is from contract work, and I work from home, but at the kitchen table. Can I take a home office deduction?
— Worker at home

A. The rules for taking a home office deduction are pretty strict, and your kitchen won’t cut it.

You are only entitled to the home office deduction if you use your home, exclusively on a regular basis as your principal place of business, said Gail Rosen, a Martinsville-based certified public accountant.

“The room or space must be excluded from any personal activities,” she said. “I am afraid that your kitchen table would not pass the exclusive test.”

Rosen said the IRS takes the exclusive test very seriously and it is a clear violation of the tax law to deduct what you’re proposing.

She said she’s glad you asked the question.

“This home office deduction could be audited and you would not have a defense,” she said. “I recommend that you should never taking a tax deduction for something that you do not have a valid answer for.”

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