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    Video transcript - Business deductions - Home office expenses

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    To see the video of this transcript visit Home office expenses

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    If you operate your business from home you may be able to claim deductions for occupancy expenses and running expenses. Occupancy expenses relate to owning or renting your home, such as mortgage interest, house insurance, council rates and rent. Running expenses include additional electricity, cooling, lighting and cleaning expenses, and depreciation of your office furniture and equipment.

    Greg and Fiona’s home office is used exclusively for their website design business. We meet clients here and we put a small sign out the front so our clients know they’re at the correct address. Greg and Fiona can claim both running and occupancy expenses.

    Jason, a landscaper, has an area set aside for working at home but it’s not his place of business so he can claim a proportion of his running expenses but not occupancy expenses such as the mortgage interest, home insurance and council rates.

    Mary’s office is at the café where she runs her café business. Although she doesn’t have a dedicated work area at home she does do some of her work there, so she can also claim running expenses but not occupancy expenses.

    A common method of working out how much to claim is to use the floor area you use as a proportion of the floor area of your whole home. Greg has worked out that their home office is 20% of their home, so they can claim 20% of their occupancy costs.

    This might not always be the best method and the ATO may accept an alternative method as long as it’s reasonable and based on accurate information.

    I heard that if I use my house for my business, then I might have to pay capital gains tax when I later sell it?

    If your home is your place of business, capital gains tax, or CGT (capital gains tax), may apply when you sell your home. CGT may apply even though you haven’t claimed mortgage interest as a deduction.

    In broad terms, the amount of CGT you pay is based on the proportion of your house you used for your business. So, if Greg can claim 20% occupancy expenses, 20% of the capital gain he makes when he sells the house will be subject to CGT.

    As a small business, Greg may be eligible for a range of concessions that could reduce the amount of CGT he has to pay.

    For more information on how CGT may affect your home based business, visit the ATO’s website.

    Running expenses are the increased costs of using your home for business activities and include, electricity, heating, cooling, lighting, business phone calls, the decline in value of plant, equipment and furniture, repairs and cleaning.

    As with calculating occupancy costs, you can use a floor plan to allocate the proportion of items such as heating and cooling to private and business use.

    But I don’t have an allocated area for work so I can’t use a floor plan.

    If a floor plan isn’t appropriate other methods may be appropriate. For example you might be able to compare your power bills from before you began operating your business to after you commenced operation.

    There are some other methods the ATO will accept as well.

    You can keep a diary showing your business use for a representative 4 week period each financial year to work out a pattern of use. When averaging this out remember to allow for holidays and illness.

    You can claim a deduction of the ATO’s rate per hour based on actual use or an established pattern of use.

    To help you work out your expenses for a home work area you can access the Home office expenses calculator available on the ATO’s website.

    When working out your allowable deductions focus on additional costs you incur because you conduct business activities from home, excluding any part of an expense related to private use.

      Last modified: 07 Apr 2015QC 40594