Our ATO Community is here to help make tax and super easier. Ask questions, share your knowledge and discuss your experiences with us and our Community.
The ATO website (in a few different places) is currently advising the following:
If you are working from home only due to COVID-19, you can't claim occupancy expenses such as mortgage interest, rent and rates
However, the following information may be gleaned from TR 93/30:
So, in circumstances where an employee:
why would such a blanket rule be applicable?
Has there been specific rulings, declarations or legislative amendments on this point?
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Thanks for contacting ATO Community.
If you're working from home, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for additional running expenses, including:
Usually people calculate these expenses by claiming a fixed rate of 52 cents per hour or calculating each expense. With more people working from home due to COVID-19, we've temporarily introduced a shortcut method. From 1 March until 30 June 2020, you can claim a rate of 80 cents per work hour for all additional running expenses.
This means that all you need to do is record the hours you worked from home and when you complete your tax return, you can multiply that number with $0.80 to calculate your deduction.
Note that you can't claim a deduction for items provided by your employer or if you have been reimbursed for the expense.
To find out more, visit Employees working from home.
I hope this helps and you remain safe and well.
Hi @MariR ,
I appreciate your response, but that doesn't answer my specific question about claiming occupancy expenses.
TR 93/30 indicates that claiming occupancy expenses is permitted in specific circumstances, which differ from casual WFH arrangements.
The ATO website states "If you are working from home only due to COVID-19, you can't claim occupancy expenses such as mortgage interest, rent and rates"
There is a clear disconnect here, as nothing in the criteria set out by TR 93/30, nor the cases it refers to, indicate that COVID causing these criteria to be satisfied is any reason that the resulting expense to the employee is not deductible.
May you please advise further?
Thank you in advance.
I have looked at the legal cases on the matters and I must say that the ATO advice is in line with the cases they won or lost. If there was a choice whether to work from home or not, the taxpayer lost, regardless of what were the obstacles of not getting into office. For instance, a barrister working on the cases at home (he could work in the chambers), a person working in Melbourne but living in Sydney (choice of place to live). This was regardless of whether the employment engagement stimulated a work from home. However, the commissioner lost some cases where there was no real choice, for instance, a music reviewer who couldn't work from her office, a manager where there was no office, etc.
My gut feeling is that COVID situation does not leave taxpayer much choice where to work, but each matter of course is facts dependent (whether you need a private office or could work from your kitchen table), and you might seek a private ruling. I feel however the Commissioner would fight tooth and nail not to allow a precedent to be set due to a large amount of taxpayers who could clam.
Tell us about your ATO Community experience and help us improve it for everyone.Provide feedback