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Verify: Can you write off your work-from-home expenses? It depends on what tax form you get

Tax day is a week away, and with so many people working from home, one of our viewers wanted to know if the new costs could be written off

ST. LOUIS — Tax day is one week away from July 7 and the Verify team is working for you.

A 5 On Your Side viewer emailed our Verify team asking, “Can I deduct my ‘work from home’ expenses during the coronavirus on my tax return?”

The Verify team spoke with Certified Public Accountant and partner at Anders CPAs and Advisors, Dave Finklang, to get the viewer answers.

Finklang said in 2018 tax reform changed the home office deduction. Finklang said if you are an employee that receives a W-2 form at the end of the year, you do not qualify for a home office deduction.

“Any of the utilities are no longer deductible, part of your mortgage interest not deductible, real estate taxes, part of that is not deductible. So, unfortunately, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, one of the things they took away from us to lower all the tax rates, was the ability to take the home office deduction,” he said.

But Finklang said if you are self-employed or a contractor who receives a 1099 form at the end of year, you are eligible for the home office deduction.

So, our verify answer for this 5 On Your Side viewer is a split one.

It all depends on the tax form you get at the end of the year.

If you get a W-2 form, you are not eligible for a home office deduction on your 2020 tax return.

If you get a 1099- form, you are eligible for a home office deduction on your 2020 taxes.

Our expert did make a good point worth passing along: federal laws are evolving due to COVID-19. Finklang said this is purely speculative, but he suggested lawmakers could make a one-time change to allow the home office deduction for W-2 employees. Therefore, Finklang, advises 5 On Your Side viewers to keep track of your work from home expenses just in case that happens.

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