If your use of a home office is for your employer’s benefit or because you’re self employed, you may be able to deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and certain other expenses, as well as the depreciation allocable to the office space. Or you may be able to take the new, simpler, “safe harbor” deduction.
Beginning with 2013 tax returns, taxpayers can use the safe harbor deduction in lieu of calculating, allocating and substantiating actual expenses. Other rules — such as the requirement that the office be used regularly and exclusively for business — still apply. The safe harbor deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on $5 per square foot up to a maximum of 300 square feet.
Also be aware that, for employees, home office expenses are a miscellaneous itemized deduction. This means you’ll enjoy a tax benefit only if these expenses plus your other miscellaneous itemized expenses exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). If, however, you’re self-employed, you can deduct eligible home office expenses against your self-employment income.
Lastly, keep in mind at tax time that there are special savings plans for the employed and self-employed that can earn you tax deductions. Learn more about the plans now.