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Save More on Taxes by Working Remotely…

Written by Anni-Mari van Wyk

On Sep 7, 2020

The “new norm” has brought many changes and challenges but we cannot overlook the great benefits this new way of living has brought.

Remote working has made life much simpler for the working groups and luckily, it comes with cost saving benefits including taxes.

Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has furthermore recently announced that employees who work from home can claim home office costs and tax deductions.

This as a number of major South African corporates have informed their employees that they’ll be working from home until at least July 2021 amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

Not only does working from home benefit company expenses such as water and electricity, but it has also led to improved employee productivity and satisfaction. Sounds fair, right?

Here’s what you need to know:

Who will be able to claim tax deductions?

Typically, only people who earn a commission (at least 50% of your gross income) or are independent contractors claim for home-office expenses.

However, this year SARS will allow full-time employees to also claim if they work from home if they have worked there for extended periods of time.

This means that you would have to work from home at least until the end of September, if you left the office at the start of the national lockdown.

When will someone be eligible to claim?

According to the Income Tax Act, an employee can claim tax deductions related to home office expenses when they are:

  • Earning a salary but using their home office exclusively and regularly to perform their duties for their employer.
  • Spending more than 50% of their total working hours working from the home office. Working from home until September, for the tax year ending 28 February 2021, would make someone eligible in this regard.

What you need to also note from SARS is that to be able to claim, an individual will have to make use of a dedicated workspace/room and not simply a dining room table.

What expenses can be claimed?

Some of the expenses an individual will be able to claim for a home office include:

  • Part of the interest on their bond, or part of the rental of the home, and municipal rates and taxes, such as water and electricity. The deduction granted will take into account the floor space of an individual’s home office, compared to the total floor area of the house. For example, if the home office is 20 square metres and the house is 200 square metres then an individual will be able to deduct 10% of the qualifying expenses. It will not be possible to deduct all expenses.
  • Stationery and data costs.
  • Wear and tear on office equipment.

Additionally, if an employer has already reimbursed an employee for data costs, stationery or other expenses – they may not have to pay tax on these payments.

How will you be able to claim?

Claiming for home office expenses can be completed through an ITR12 tax return form. Through this process, an individual will have to provide proof of the expenses in the form of invoices or statements. The days spent working from home furthermore has to be indicated to prove that more than 50% of total working hours were spent working from home.

Cons:

It is important to note that if an individual owns their home, claiming home office expenses could cost them in extra capital gains tax (CGT) when the property is sold.

According to SARS, the first R2 million of primary residences does not have any capital gains tax. However, if an individual indicates to SARS that part of the property is not a residence, but an income-generating office, that part may be excluded from the capital gains tax break.

Therefore, if an individual claims 10% of their home’s floor space as an office, then 10% of the eventual selling price could be liable for CGT. The CGT’s inclusion rate for individuals is 40% (i.e. your capital gain will be included in your income tax calculation at a 40% inclusion rate). However, SARS has indicated that the CGT calculation takes into account the length of time over which an individual has used their home office.

More information about this can be found directly from the SARS website on: https://www.sars.gov.za/

If you still need help with filling for your taxes, you can get in touch with us on info@cvwab.co.za

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