If you’ve been working from home since the beginning of lockdown, you can claim back some money from SARS and we have an online calculator that can make that process easy for you
WORDS BY: Yolisa Mkele
Working from home has its share of ups and downs. On the upside, office attire now includes that comfy pair of underwear with a hole in it and on the downside, you are now the victim of endless Zoom meetings. Thanks to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), there is now another perk to working from home; you can now claim for your home office.
According to digital tax advisory service TaxTim, if you’ve been working from home ever since everyone’s favourite reason to cancel plans, AKA coronavirus, forced us into lockdown then you may be in line for a tax deduction.
“Claim for your home office if you started working from home at the end of March 2020, and worked there for at least six 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.
Before you run to your bedroom and start tallying up everything you can bill to our local tax collector, there are a few things the boffins at TaxTim suggest you bear in mind:
- 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; and
- Your office is specifically equipped with the relevant instruments, tools and equipment needed to do your work.
SEE ALSO: The mechanics of remote work
In short, just because you took a meeting in the swimming pool once, does not mean that you will be able to claim HTH as a deductible. The fun part though, is that if you do meet these requirements you may be able to claim things like rent or interest on your bond, repairs to the premises, rates and taxes, water and electricity, cleaning, data and a whole lot of other expenses relating to wear and tear of office equipment and all other expenses relating to your house only. Even better, if more than 50% of your salary is based on commission then you can claim commission related business expenses like your phone, stationery and printer repairs.
Van der Westhuizen says that to figure out what your home office deduction will be, you need to do some maths. Basically measure the total square meterage of your working space in relation to your home and then figure out what that number is as a percentage. Alternatively TaxTim (https://www.taxtim.com/za/calculators/home-office-expense-calculator) has a home office expense calculator that can make your life a little easier.
Don’t get too clever though, it has rarely ever been a good idea to try and cheat the taxman and SARS may ask you for some kind of proof that the space you are claiming for really is a home office. More importantly, the deductions you claim can only form a percentage of your total expenditure. So you can’t claim a deduction for the entirety of your rent when you only use one room to work in and even then, you must show that you spend most of the time working in there and use it exclusively for work purposes. You also can’t claim for anything that your employer gives you for free (laptops, data dongles, headaches, etc) or anything that is for private or domestic use. So forget about trying to claim Fifa21 as a home office deductible under “employee wellness”.