Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?

Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?
Tax deductions for home work are complex. Photo by Depositphotos
Working from home is now mandatory in Switzerland. Does this mean you can deduct household expenses?
Many employees in Switzerland have been working from home since the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
In fact, working from home is now mandatory in Switzerland. 
This means the question of deductions is very pertinent ahead of tax filing deadline on March 31st.

Let’s say you had to purchase a new computer or another piece or equipment in order to set up your home office. Or you incurred other expenses related to home work, such as cost of meals.

Can you deduct them from your taxes?

The specific answer depends on where you live, as rules may vary in each canton, according to a report by SRF public broadcaster. 

Generally speaking, most cantons will allow deduction for professional costs such as work-related travel costs, as though the employee had driven to the office every day.

The same applies to commuters who had purchased tickets for public transportation before the home work obligation went into effect. However, the amount of the deductions varies greatly from canton to canton.

READ MORE: Covid-19: How the pandemic has triggered a boom in home working jobs in Switzerland

And the actual guidelines vary and can be quite confusing.

For instance, some cantons allow meal and commuting expenses to be deducted only when actual costs are incurred, while others permit employees working from home to claim full meal and commuting deductions, whether or not they have actually worked remotely.

There are also different rules regarding home office costs — some cantons don’t accept these costs as a deduction, while others allow to deduct the portion of the rent for the part of the house used exclusively for working.

In yet other cases, home office costs are covered by the 3 percent lump-sum deduction that is allowed for professional expenses.

Most of the cantonal tax offices have published information on the special Covid-related regulations on their websites. 

READ MORE: Switzerland's strangest taxes – and what happens if you don't pay them


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