As a result of the Corona pandemic, many people now work at home. This may increase their expenses on electricity, heating, water, etc. For the years 2020 and 2021 employees will thus be given a tax relief to cover this. They can deduct 5 Euros from their taxable income per working day they spent at home instead of their usual work place.
The flat reduction is only granted for work days the employee spent entirely at home and did not even partially work from his usual place of work.
For this reason, no commuting allowance may be claimed for workdays in the home office. But depending on the distance to the workplace, the commuter allowance can result in better tax benefits than the home office allowance.
The employee does not need to have an office; the allowance is available even if the kitchen table or the couch has become the new workplace.
A maximum of 120 days may not be exceeded in one calendar year.
For each of the years 2020 and 2021, the employee can therefore reduce his taxable income by up to 600 Euros.
Unfortunately, the Home Office Allowance counts towards income-related expenses as expenses of the employee for training, home office equipment or work clothes. As a statutory rule a lump sum of 1,000 Euros per year of income-related expenses is deducted from every employee’s taxable income anyway (without evidence) before the taxes are calculated. Therefore, an employee must actually have spent more than 1,000 Euros on income-related expenses including the home office flat rate in one calendar year, in order to benefit from the home office allowance in terms of taxation. A tax reduction actually happens, for instance, if and as far as the employee has had own expenses for things like home office furniture and IT equipment that exceed 1,000 Euros, together with the total home office flat rate.
No Home Office Allowance Without Tax Declaration
Employees have to claim the home office allowance themselves from their competent tax office by submitting their tax declaration for the respective year within the applicable deadlines. The home office allowance is not taken into account by the employer preparing the pay-slips.
Certificate of the Employer
The employee does not have to provide to his tax office a certificate from his employer for the working days spent at home. If employers provide a certificate nevertheless, they should point out in the certificate that the approval of home office does not result in any change to the employment contract regulations regarding the place and time of work and that these are to be complied with by the employee again as usual as soon as permitted by the Corona pandemic. Many employees will not be happy to return to work after the Corona pandemic. They may argue that the work days spent at home have proven that they can continuously work from home. If possible, a certificate issued by the employer for tax purposes should not encourage this, all the more so since it is not required by the tax authorities.
Employers do not have to issue a certificate for work days spent at home; the tax authorities do not require one. If, however, employers do issue such a certificate, they should avoid formulations from which employees could later derive a right to work from their home.