Revenu Québec has confirmed that taxpayers can claim employment-related expenses of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic when they file their 2020 income taxes. For renters, that will include a deduction for a “reasonable” portion of rent, while renters and homeowners alike can be credited for eligible amounts of office supplies, and for cleaning supplies, internet service, utility fees and minor repairs attributed to the home workspace.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is expected to make a similar announcement, tax law specialists with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP report. Earlier this spring, they petitioned the CRA’s Income Tax Rulings Directorate for a broader interpretation of the current rules, which require claimants to work from home for at least six months in a calendar year, and have received verbal commitment that a COVID-19-related relaxation is coming.
To qualify, taxpayers would still have to show they have worked “principally” at home — meaning at least 50 per cent of employment-related duties — but that could be scoped to the shorter period of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We expect the CRA to issue an interpretation consistent with Revenu Québec and broaden its historical interpretation of the “principally” requirement,” a recent bulletin from the tax team at Borden Ladner Gervais states. “The CRA has already begun to provide advice on ways to reduce the administrative burden for the employer requirement to issue a T2200 (form) to facilitate the claiming of this benefit by employees for the 2020 taxation year.”
Instructions now posted on the Revenu Québec website note that employers will have access to digital forms, which can be signed electronically and emailed to employees “as a relief measure during the health crises”. Employees will also be required to submit details of their expenses.
“Whether you own or rent the dwelling where your home office space is, you must use a reasonable basis for calculating office space expenses. For example, you could use the proportion of the office space’s surface area versus your home’s total surface area,” Revenu Québec’s instructions advise.