Can I claim back expenses while working from home?

With thousands of office workers forced to work from home during lockdown, setting up a desk from the kitchen table has now become an attractive option for companies looking to reduce overheads and slash rents.

According to the Office for National Statistics, almost half of British workers were working away from their office or factory in June. Furthermore, many employers remain reluctant to reopen their workplaces, preferring to keep staff at home.

This sudden change in workplace has meant many people have had to take on an unanticipated amount of running costs since March. Electricity, telephone charges, WiFi and even tea and coffee have all come at the expense of those who didn’t expect to be working from home at the beginning of the year.

If you are working from home, then you may be able to claim tax relief for some of your bills. However, be aware that you cannot claim this tax relief if you choose to work from home. If you do voluntarily work from home, there may be other expenses you are entitled to. In this blog, we have outlined some frequently asked questions about expense claims while working from home.

Can I claim back expenses while working from home? - woman with laptop writing on paper

I have to work from home. What expenses can I claim for?

If you have to work from home, say because your office or factory is closed, then you can only claim for things to do with your work. These include things like business telephone calls or the additional cost of gas and electricity for your work area.

However, if you use things for both business and private use, such as broadband access, then you cannot claim for these.

How do I make a claim for tax relief?

If you normally complete a self-assessment tax return form, you can make your claim using this method. Otherwise, you can complete a P87 form online via your Government Gateway account. If you haven’t got a Government Gateway account, you can complete a postal form.

Alternatively, from April 2020 your employer can pay you up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover any additional costs if you have to work from home. For previous tax years, you can be paid £4 a week (£18 a month).

Do I need to keep records if I claim tax relief when having to work from home?

The good news is you will not need to keep any records to claim the working at home tax relief so long as your claim does not exceed the £6 a week entitlement from April 2020 (or £4 a week for previous tax years). However, if you believe your costs are a lot higher than this you can claim more, but you will need to provide proof of your expenditure.

What other expenses can I claim for?

Whether you’re working from home or not, you might be able to claim tax relief for other expenses. For example, if you use your own money for things that you must buy for your job and you only use these things for your work, such as:

You cannot claim tax relief if your employer either gives you all the money back or provides an alternative, such as giving you a laptop but you want a different type or model.

For some claims you must keep records of what you’ve spent, such as receipts or invoices. You have four years from the end of the tax year in which you spent the money to make a claim.

Here at AMR we are experts at helping businesses of all sizes with their bookkeeping and payroll requirements. If you have any questions about the contents of this blog, or you need professional bookkeeping advice, our friendly team will be happy to assist you. Get in touch and find out how we can help you and your business.

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