Working from home? How to tell if you’re eligible to claim back tax

28 April 2021 - 12:01
If you've been working from home during the pandemic, you may be eligible to claim back tax on certain expenses such as your home’s rent or bond interest. Stock photo.
If you've been working from home during the pandemic, you may be eligible to claim back tax on certain expenses such as your home’s rent or bond interest. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ammentorp

For many people, the flexibility that comes with working from home has been a welcome perk of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has enabled employees to cut down on time spent commuting, save on fuel costs and manage their time more effectively. As an added bonus, employees who have been working from home may be eligible to claim a tax reduction if they meet certain requirements.

According to TaxTim, an online service that assists with completing and submitting income tax returns, you can claim a tax reduction for the tax year starting March 2020 if you spent more than half of your total working hours – or more than six months since March 2020 – working from home.

However, you can claim only if you have a dedicated work space in your home that you have set up, equipped with the necessary tools and use exclusively for work purposes.

You will also need a letter from your employer stating you work from home and confirming the amount of time you spend working from home, and the amount of time you spend working from the office (if any).

You can only claim if you have a dedicated work space in your home that you have set up, equipped with the necessary tools and use exclusively for work purposes.

If you meet these requirements, you’re eligible to claim back tax on certain expenses such as your home’s rent or bond interest, water and electricity costs, rates and taxes, levies, insurance, office equipment and data use.

The percentage of household costs you can claim back will be determined by the total square meterage of your home office in relation to that of your home. 

According to Elani van der Westhuizen, a senior tax technical consultant at TaxTim, you will need to add these claims to your tax return yourself as they won’t be calculated and added to an auto assessment.

If you qualify for a tax reduction claim, you can make use of TaxTim’s home office calculator to work out the percentage of household costs you can claim back.