I work from home. Can I deduct expenses for a home office?

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Q. I’m now officially working full-time from home. Can I deduct a home office even though I’m an employee? What can I deduct and how do I do it?
— Worker

A. When the COVID pandemic hit, many people started working from home.

Even as some people are returning to the office, there are lots of people, like you, who are now working from home full-time.

So can you deduct a home office?

The short answer is no, said Michael Karu, a certified public accountant with Levine, Jacobs & Co. in Livingston.

“Employee business expenses as an itemized deduction were eliminated with the 2018 Tax Act,” Karu said. “If you were self-employed, then home office expenses would be allowable as an expense on Schedule C.”

Karu said a variety of home office expenses are allowable for the self-employed.

This includes anything that is specific to the office counts including furniture, computer equipment and supplies and office supplies.

Additionally, a deduction is allowed for the space itself.

“It is calculated by taking the square footage of the space used as an office divided by the square footage of the entire residence,” he said. “The divisor is multiplied by the sum of all expenses related to the residence.”

If it is an apartment, the expenses would include rent, utilities and insurance. If a house, it includes mortgage interest, real estate taxes, repairs and maintenance, he said

“If anything is specific to the space utilized, then it would not be pro-rated,” he said. “An example would be painting the home office.”

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This story was originally published on Dec. 16, 2022.

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