– There are several employers who wonder if they can have a digital Christmas table tax-free and what they can give of equipment to the employees in the home office without it triggering tax. Others wonder if they are entitled to any deductions for having a home office, says section manager Lene Marie Ringså in the Tax Administration.
TV 2 has previously mentioned the rules that apply if the company wants to arrange a digital Christmas table, which you can read about here.
The Tax Administration recently published an overview with answers to other common questions employers and employees have about taxation in the home office.
When employees have expenses for a home office that the employer does not cover, these expenses will as a general rule be deductible. However, they will not be deducted, because expenses for work in the home office rarely exceed the standardized minimum deduction.
The minimum deduction is a deduction of up to NOK 104,450 in 2020, which employees receive regardless of whether they have expenses associated with the work or not. In order for it to be profitable for the employee to demand a deduction for expenses in the home office, in other words, the actual expenses must be higher than the minimum deduction.
– The employer can both lend you office equipment and give you office equipment tax-free, but for it to be tax-free, the reason why you get it must be that you use it in the home office, Ringså says.
Extra screen, extra keyboard, work light, broadband, telephony and office chair are all examples of what employees can receive tax-free from the employer these days, says lawyer and adviser Per Ole Hegdahl in the Taxpayers’ Association.
Hegdahl has reviewed the Tax Administration’s overview and picked out some of the most important points.
One of them is that employers can provide office allowance when the employee has a separate room that is only used for a home office.
– Then the employer can pay 1850 kroner to the employee for the use of the home office, and this payment can be received tax-free, says Hegdahl.
When the employer provides equipment to the employee, this can be received tax-free in the same way as the employee could have claimed a deduction if he had bought the equipment on his own.
– In these cases, an assessment must be made. To avoid benefits taxation, the equipment must undoubtedly be for use in the work, says Hegdahl.
He reminds that employers can give gifts to employees of up to 2000 kroner per year.
– So if the equipment does not have a value of more than NOK 2,000, and the same scheme applies to all or a group of employees, goods up to NOK 2,000 can be received tax-free.
The tax authorities know of several employers who have given their employees a cash amount they can use to buy equipment for their home office, without there being a requirement to submit receipts or document the purchases for the employer.
– Then it is important to note that this amount in its entirety will be taxable for the employees, Ringså says.
– Here it is important to know the tax rules, Hegdahl adds, and elaborates:
– If the employer gives a sum of money to the employee who later submits receipts to the employer which shows that equipment has been purchased for the home office, only any profit will be taxable as salary.
Hegdahl says that coverage of costs for internet and telephony follows the rates and rules that usually apply, regardless of whether this is now used more in home offices than usual.
– Food covered in the home office can not be received tax-free regardless of whether it is lunch or overtime food. The only exception here is if the serving takes place at home and this is to be regarded as a welfare measure, says Hegdahl.
In other words, employees must meet at Teams or Zoom at the same time as they eat, in order for the food to be received tax-free.
– In these corona times, the home office will be considered a permanent workplace for many. This means that expenses for travel from the home office to what is usually the workplace can be covered by the employer tax-free, says Hegdahl.
You can read the entire overview from the Tax Administration here.
When you have worked in a home office for large parts of the year, it can for some lead to you going on a tax break. This applies to those who are used to getting back on the tax due to labor or commuting expenses.
Figures from the Tax Administration show that more than 280,000 employees had labor or commuting expenses in 2019 that were large enough for them to be deducted from their income. In total, these demanded more than five billion kroner in deductions.
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Working in a home office rather than in the workplace means that the deductible travel costs in the tax return will be less.
– In practice, this means that employees have to pay more in taxes. The tip here is to set aside some money for possible residual tax, since we are now at the end of the income year and the possibility of changing the tax card for the current year is very limited, says Hegdahl.
Can be about many thousands of kroner
The distance between home and work must be more than 64.4 kilometers round trip for the costs to exceed NOK 23,100, and in this way you can deduct the excess costs.
Hegdahl has made an example for a person who lives in Hvaler, more specifically Skjærhalden, and works permanently in central Oslo.
– If you work in Oslo every day of the year, you will be entitled to an income deduction of NOK 59,202. This gives NOK 13,024 in reduced tax. If the number of working days in Oslo is reduced to one third due to the corona situation and extensive use of home offices, you will only be able to claim a deduction of NOK 5,591, says Hegdahl.
The reduced travel deduction will only reduce your tax by NOK 1,230.
– In other words, we see that home offices, which means that the number of working days in Oslo is reduced by two thirds, trigger an increased tax of 11,794 in 2020, says Hegdahl, based on the calculation of 13,024 – 1,230.
The tax authorities remind you that you can check this on your tax card right now.
– Go to our website, and you can enter the actual figures that apply to you in 2020.
Canteen at work?
Hegdahl believes that there are several who currently also do well to keep in mind the tax rules for corporate canteens.
– In order for the company canteen not to trigger tax liability for the employees, the employees must contribute a deductible that covers the employer’s significant parts of the costs. Employees often pay between 400 and 600 kroner a month, says Hegdahl.
The point here is again that many have had a lot of home office in the last six months.
– And then they do not benefit from the company canteen. Therefore, there is much to suggest that employers should repay this deduction for the period employees have not been in the office. Here, it can be a lot of money to save for the employees who no longer enjoy the company canteen, advises Hegdahl.
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