If you’ve been working from home for the past year during the lockdown, you can claim a tax deduction from South African Revenue Services (SARS). Mostly it is workers who earn commission and independent contractors claim these expenses.
“Claim for your home office if you started working from home at the end of March, and worked there for at least 6 months till the end of February 2021, to deduct this benefit in the tax year,” says Elani van der Westhuizen, senior tax technical at TaxTim, a digital tax assistant that helps you to complete your taxes by asking you questions.
If you qualify to claim, TaxTim offers a home office expense calculator which will help you calculate your expense claim from SARS.
However, before using the calculator, it is important to ensure that you meet these minimum requirements as explained in the TaxTim home office decision tree:
- you have spent more than half of your total working hours working from your home office
- you have a letter from your employer that states that you can work from home and confirms the percentage of time you spent there
- you have an area of your home exclusively used and set up for work
- your office is specifically equipped with the relevant instruments, tools and equipment needed to do your work.
If you meet these requirements, you can claim rent or interest on your bond, repairs to the premises, rates and taxes, water and electricity, cleaning, data usage, wear and tear of office equipment and all other expenses relating to your house only.
If you earn a commission that is more than 50% of your total salary, you can also claim for other commission-related business expenses, such as a phone, internet, stationery and printer repairs. (More home office expenses information.)
To determine your home office deduction, calculate the total square meterage of your home office in relation to the total square meterage of your home and convert this to a percentage. This percentage is then applied to the home office expenditure to calculate the portion that is deductible, van der Westhuizen explains. TaxTim’s home office expense calculator can do this for you.
Van der Westhuizen warns that these claims will not be listed on their SARS auto assessment and therefore it is important to ensure that you add these to your tax return yourself.
This situation is different for sole proprietors or freelancers who work from home because they can automatically deduct all their home office expenses. They also do not have to meet the same stringent conditions to qualify for a deduction, van der Westhuizen says.