A Practice Smart (TM) Feature from Appeal Funding Partners, LLC
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are working from home. If you’re self-employed and run your business from your home or perform certain functions there, you might be able to claim deductions for home office expenses against your business income. There are two methods for claiming this tax break: the actual expenses method and the simplified method.
In general, you qualify for home office deductions if part of your home is used “regularly and exclusively” as your principal place of business. If your home isn’t your principal place of business, you may still be able to deduct home office expenses if 1) you physically meet with patients, clients or customers on your premises, or 2) you use a storage area in your home (or a separate free-standing structure, such as a garage) exclusively and regularly for business.
What can you deduct?
Many eligible taxpayers deduct actual expenses when they claim home office deductions. Deductible home office expenses may include:
- Direct expenses, such as the cost of painting and carpeting a room used exclusively for business,
- A proportionate share of indirect expenses, including mortgage interest, rent, property taxes, utilities, repairs and insurance, and
But keeping track of actual expenses can take time and require organization.
How does the simpler method work?
Fortunately, there’s a simplified method: You can deduct $5 for each square foot of home office space, up to a maximum total of $1,500.
The cap can make the simplified method less valuable for larger home office spaces. But even for small spaces, taxpayers may qualify for bigger deductions using the actual expense method. So, tracking your actual expenses can be worth it.
Can I switch?
When claiming home office deductions, you’re not stuck with a particular method. For instance, you might choose the actual expense method on your 2020 return, use the simplified method when you file your 2021 return next year, and then switch back to the actual expense method for 2022. The choice is yours.
What if I sell the home?
If you sell — at a profit — a home that contains (or contained) a home office, there may be tax implications.
Also, be aware that the amount of your home office deductions is subject to limitations based on the income attributable to your use of the office. Other rules and limitations may apply. But any home office expenses that can’t be deducted because of these limitations can be carried over and deducted in later years.
Do employees qualify?
Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the business use of home office deductions from 2018 through 2025 for employees. Those who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from their employers aren’t eligible for deductions, even if they’re currently working from home.
Other Practice Smart articles which may be of interest:
LEGAL SETTLEMENTS AS CAPITAL GAIN: A PLAYBOOK TO AVOID ORDINARY INCOME
HOW SETTLEMENTS AND LEGAL FEES ARE TAXED POST-TAX REFORM
The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice or services. The discussion is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied on for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.
Practice Smart(TM) Features are a service of Michael Blum and Appeal Funding Partners, LLC. The Features are thoughts from a variety of sources on our practices, on being trial lawyers, and things of importance to trial lawyers and their clients.
Michael Blum is a trial attorney and CEO of Appeal Funding Partners, LLC. He is a pioneer in litigation funding with over 27 experience easing the financial hardship and stress of attorneys and plaintiffs with money judgments on appeal. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of California and of the Marin Trial Lawyers Association and has served on several American Association for Justice committees. He speaks to trial-lawyer groups and has written for TLA publications on the financial management of a contingency-fee law firm. He may be contacted at 415-729-4214.
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