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VERIFY: No, you can't deduct home office expenses if employer has you working from home during pandemic

Working from home became the norm for many in 2020, and some are wondering if they will be able to claim their expenses for their home office

MACON, Ga. — The IRS will begin accepting tax returns this Friday, February 12. Some are wondering whether they can claim a home office deduction if they're working from home due to the pandemic, so we set out to verify. 

Our sources are the IRS and Terry Parker, who's a certified public accountant.

"The reason the question has come up is because of the pandemic, so many people are staying at home or cannot work inside of their office, and they're working for home, at least on a temporary basis," said Parker.

If your employer has you working from home during the pandemic... do you qualify for the home office deduction?

According to both the IRS and Parker, the answer is 'no.'

Parker says the home-office deduction can only be taken by businesses or the self-employed.

"This is their office and they work out of this office -- they meet their clients or patients, their business contacts all are done in this office, not another location, and of course, you've got to have an area which is exclusively for the business," he said.

The IRS says there are two basic requirements for the taxpayer's home to qualify as a deduction.

Regular and Exclusive Use: "You must regularly use part of your home exclusively for conducting business. For example, if you use an extra room to run your business, you can take a home office deduction for that extra room."

Principal Place of Your Business: "You must show that you use your home as your principal place of business. If you conduct business at a location outside of your home, but also use your home substantially and regularly to conduct business, you may qualify for a home office deduction."

Parker says the table where your kids do their schoolwork or your family eats dinner does not count as a home office.

"It's got to be something that is only used for the business, which means it can't be the kitchen table or the dining room table that everybody in the family uses,"

However, taxpayers who use their home on a regular basis to provide daycare may be able to claim a deduction for part of the home even if the same space is used for nonbusiness purposes.