Whether you’re self-employed, an employee, or a partner, you may be able to deduct certain expenses for the part of your home that you use for business.
- To deduct expenses for business use of the home, you must use part of your home as one of the following:
- Exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business for your trade or business;
- Exclusively and regularly as a place where you meet and deal with your patients, clients, or customers in the normal course of your trade or business;
- A separate structure that’s not attached to your home used exclusively and regularly in connection with your trade or business;
- On a regular basis for storage of inventory or product samples used in your trade or business of selling products at retail or wholesale;
- For rental use; or As a daycare facility.
If the exclusive use requirement applies, you can’t deduct business expenses for any part of your home that you use both for personal and business purposes. For example, if you’re an attorney and use the den of your home to write legal briefs and for personal purposes, you may not deduct any business use of your home expenses. Further, under the principal place of business test, you must determine that your home is the principal place of your trade or business after considering where you perform your most important business activities and where you spend most of your business activity time, in order to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. A portion of your home may qualify as your principal place of business if you use it for the administrative or management activities of your trade or business and have no other fixed location where you conduct substantial administrative or management activities for that trade or business. An employee may only deduct business use of the home expenses when he or she uses the business part of the home exclusively and regularly and for the employer’s convenience.
You also may take deductions for business storage purposes when the dwelling unit is the sole fixed location of the business or for regular use of a residence for the provision of daycare services; exclusive use isn’t required in these cases. For more information, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Daycare Providers).
Deductible expenses for business use of your home include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, casualty losses, utilities, insurance, depreciation, maintenance, and repairs. In general, you may not deduct expenses for the parts of your home not used for business, for example, lawn care or painting a room not used for business.
Regular Method – You compute the business use of home deduction by dividing expenses of operating the home between personal and business use. You may deduct direct business expenses in full, and may allocate the indirect total expenses of the home to the percentage of the home floor space used for business. A qualified daycare provider who doesn’t use his or her home exclusively for business purposes, however, must figure the percentage based on the amount of time the applicable portion of the home is used for business. Self-employed taxpayers filing Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship) first compute this deduction on Form 8829 (PDF), Expenses for Business Use of Your Home.
Simplified Option – While taxpayers can still figure the deduction using the regular method, many taxpayers may find the optional safe harbor method less burdensome. Revenue Procedure 2013-13 allows qualifying taxpayers to use a prescribed rate of $5 per square foot of the portion of the home used for business (up to a maximum of 300 square feet) to compute the business use of home deduction. Under this safe harbor method, depreciation is treated as zero and the taxpayer claims the deduction directly on Form 1040, Schedule C. Instead of using Form 8829, the taxpayer indicates the taxpayer’s election to use the safe harbor option by making two entries directly on the Schedule C for the square footage of the home and the square footage of the office. Deductions attributable to the home that are otherwise allowable without regard to business use (such as qualified residence interest, property taxes, and casualty losses) are allowed in full on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions. For more information, see Home Office Deduction, Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction, and FAQs – Simplified Method for Home Office Deduction.
Regardless of the method used to compute the deduction, you may not deduct business expenses in excess of the gross income limitation. Under the regular method for computing the deduction, you may be able to carry forward some of these business expenses to the next year, subject to the gross income limitation for that year. There’s no carryover provision under the safe harbor method, but you may elect into and out of the safe harbor method in any given year.
In the Farming Business, an Employee, or a Partner – If you’re in the farming business and file Form 1040, Schedule F (PDF), Profit or Loss From Farming, an employee, or a partner, and you’re using actual expenses, use the “Worksheet to Figure the Deduction for Business Use of Your Home” to figure your deduction. If you’re using the simplified method to figure the deduction, use the “Simplified Method Worksheet” to figure your deduction. Both worksheets are in Publication 587. As an employee, you must itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF) to claim expenses for the business use of your home. Farmers claim their expenses on Form 1040, Schedule F (PDF). Partners generally claim their unreimbursed partnership expenses on Form 1040, Schedule E (PDF), Supplemental Income and Loss.
Publication 587 has detailed information on rules for the business use of your home, including how to determine whether your home office qualifies as your principal place of business.
Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction
Beginning in tax year 2013 (returns filed in 2014), taxpayers may use a simplified option when figuring the deduction for business use of their home.
Note: This simplified option does not change the criteria for who may claim a home office deduction. It merely simplifies the calculation and recordkeeping requirements of the allowable deduction.
Highlights of the simplified option:
- Standard deduction of $5 per square foot of home used for business (maximum 300 square feet).
- Allowable home-related itemized deductions claimed in full on Schedule A. (For example: Mortgage interest, real estate taxes).
- No home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years the simplified option is used.
Comparison of methods
|Simplified Option||Regular Method|
|Deduction for home office use of a portion of a residence allowed only if that portion is exclusively used on a regular basis for business purposes||Same|
|Allowable square footage of home use for business (not to exceed 300 square feet)||Percentage of home used for business|
|Standard $5 per square foot used to determine home business deduction||Actual expenses determined and records maintained|
|Home-related itemized deductions claimed in full on Schedule A||Home-related itemized deductions apportioned between Schedule A and business schedule (Sch. C or Sch. F)|
|No depreciation deduction||Depreciation deduction for portion of home used for business|
|No recapture of depreciation upon sale of home||Recapture of depreciation on gain upon sale of home|
|Deduction cannot exceed gross income from business use of home less business expenses||Same|
|Amount in excess of gross income limitation may not be carried over||Amount in excess of gross income limitation may be carried over|
|Loss carryover from use of regular method in prior year may not be claimed||Loss carryover from use of regular method in prior year may be claimed if gross income test is met in current year|
Selecting a Method
- You may choose to use either the simplified method or the regular method for any taxable year.
- You choose a method by using that method on your timely filed, original federal income tax return for the taxable year.
- Once you have chosen a method for a taxable year, you cannot later change to the other method for that same year.
- If you use the simplified method for one year and use the regular method for any subsequent year, you must calculate the depreciation deduction for the subsequent year using the appropriate optional depreciation table. This is true regardless of whether you used an optional depreciation table for the first year the property was used in business.