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A U.S. company has instructed it's employees to work from home for a period extending 4 weeks following city and state guidelines as a necessary precaution in response to COVID-19. Subsequently company workers have set up makeshift offices at home in. What if anything at all about the "makeshift office" is tax deductible for the 2020 tax season ( -next year).

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    Would be great if you added a country tag. Otherwise I’ll say “there is now federal tax law in the U.K., maybe you meant Germany?
    – gnasher729
    Mar 17 '20 at 14:57
  • @gnasher729 I assumed federal-tax-law implied U.S. jurisdiction. I will however update per you comment. Mar 17 '20 at 15:01
  • @Damilia - embarrassing. It's not 2019 anymore. I will update per your comment. Mar 17 '20 at 15:44
  • Nothing is deductible for the 2020 tax season next year. That's just when the tallies are done. Anything deductible in 2020 has to be done right now. Except for IRA contribs! Mar 18 '20 at 5:18
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You will probably not be able to take a tax deduction for this.

The IRS requires that the space that you use for your home office is that the portion of your house is exclusively and regularly used for business purposes. It also must be the principle place of your business.

Some employees can use the home-office deduction, but there are tests there too:

  • Your business use must be for the convenience of your employer
  • You cannot rent any portion of your home to your employer
  • You have to meet the above (exclusivity/regularly) criteria

It's unlikely that you will be able to deduct a home office expense as a tax deduction for the 2020 tax year (2019 tax year has already passed) due to quarantine measures unless you continue to be quarantined for the remainder of the year (or a significant portion of it).

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  • Or you manage to convert your arrangement into a permanent WFH, which may be an option if companies realize they can save on office costs. Mar 17 '20 at 23:22
  • Actually not. Deduction for business use of home as employee is one of the '2% floor' deductions suspended for 2018 through 2025 by TCJA 2017 (PL115-97 sec11045 at 26 USC 67(g)). They are scheduled to return in 2026, but if COVID-19 lasts that long I think you'll have more serious problems to worry about than this tax deduction. PS: s/principle/principal/ Mar 17 '20 at 23:32
  • Suggested edit: "principAL". Mar 18 '20 at 5:58

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