Ministry of Finance responds to changed world of work: Tax benefits for home office  Tax allowances for home workers, simplified process for self-employed to deduct home-office costs, meal voucher validity for home workers to be extended

The option for the self-employed of claiming flat-rate home-office running expenses, such as for rent, electricity or heating, is set to be introduced in assessment year 2022, with a distinction between a 'lower' and 'higher' workplace allowance. In order to claim the allowance, self-employed earners are generally required to have no other space available for their work activity outside their own home.

The lower workplace allowance, totalling EUR 300 per year, is available to all self-employed earners with significant additional work-related earnings of over EUR 11 000 annually and access to a work space outside their own home. With the lower workplace allowance, expenses for ergonomic office furniture, in particular desks, swivel chairs or desk lamps, are additionally tax-deductible in a sum of up to EUR 300 per year.

The higher workplace allowance, however, is only available to self-employed earners who derive their main income from work undertaken at home. Additional income earned outside the home may not therefore total over EUR 11 000. HereereHr, taxpayers can claim EUR 1 200 per year in standard expenses. How much a self-employed worker actually earns is immaterial, but if they carry on several separate jobs from home, they may only claim a single workplace allowance.

Another tax break on offer to employees working from home consists of so-called 'gastro-vouchers'. These tax-exempt vouchers, worth EUR 8 and provided to employees by employers, will still be valid for home workers too, as has been the case since the beginning of 2020. This arrangement, which would have expired at the end of 2021, is now being extended indefinitely.

"The economy has been transformed as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Our aim is to adapt to the changes in the world of work and, for this reason, we are extending tax benefits to cover home-office working. As a result, self-employed earners will have a tax allowance for expenses such as rent, electricity or heating if working from home. On top of this, employees working from home can pay for lunch deliveries using tax-exempt gastro-vouchers," explains Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.