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Working from home – Can you claim from SARS?

“Amid some uncertainty, SARS has confirmed that full-time employees will be able to claim home-office expenses during lockdown. But you have to work from home for at least six months of the tax year. And you can’t just work from your dining room table,” a SARS spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider SA.

In a recent article, PwC discussed the possible deductions an employee can claim for home office expenditure and to what extent, if any, an employer can assist employees in making such a claim. Click here to download the article.

According to PWC, it is evident that “the rules for claiming home office expenses are very strict and not of general application, since very specific requirements need to be met to enable an employee to claim such an expense as a tax deduction.

From a practical perspective, the employee would need to complete the ITR12 tax return to claim such expenditure and can expect some practical challenges in being able to claim the expense in their tax return on efiling. Since the onus of proof is on the taxpayer, SARS will very likely ask a taxpayer making a home office claim to prove that all the requirements are met and will typically disallow the expenditure if they are of the view that all of the necessary requirements are not met or the employee is unable to prove the expenditure claimed.

Since there appears to be much misinformation in the public domain regarding this matter, employers are therefore advised to inform their employees of the requirements to qualify to claim home office expenses as a tax deduction in their tax returns and also point out the potential implications for them if they do. Employees should be counselled to proceed with caution as regards claiming a tax deduction for home office expenses and preferably advised to obtain tax advice from a reputable tax adviser before embarking on the process.”

On a lighter note: a teacher submitted a claim for tax relief, citing stationery and clothing expenses. The Receiver denied the claim but asked the teacher to provide more details of the relevant article on which he based his claim. “It was based on an article in You magazine”, was the response.

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