Home Office Deduction Safe-Harbor

Individual taxpayers who elect this method can determine the deduction by multiplying the allowable square footage by $5. The allowable square footage is the portion of the dwelling used in a qualified business use, up to 300 square feet; thus, the maximum safe-harbor deduction is $1,500. The safe harbor is elected on a timely filed original tax return (instead of on Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, which is used for the actual-expense method), and taxpayers are allowed to change their treatment from year to year. However, the election made for any tax year is irrevocable.

No depreciation is allowed for the years in which the safe harbor is elected, but it is permitted in years in which the actual-expense method is used. The revenue procedure gives detailed examples of how depreciation is calculated in a year after the safe-harbor method is used.

To use the safe-harbor method, taxpayers must continue to satisfy all the other requirements for a home office deduction, including that the space be used exclusively for the qualified business purpose and that an employee qualifies for the deduction only if the office is for the convenience of the taxpayer’s employer.

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