Claiming home-office expenses due to COVID-19

As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, many of our faculty and staff have shifted to a remote work environment. You may be wondering whether you can claim home office expenses for work spaces and supplies on your 2020 personal income tax.

Employees are encouraged to speak to their supervisor about eligible work expenses under the University of Alberta Expense Reimbursement Procedure and use their existing funding and reimbursement programs to cover work-at-home expenditures.

How to claim 2020 expenses

For the 2020 tax year, under the Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) new administrative policy, you may claim home office expenses using one of two different methods.

Eligibility: You worked from home full time or part time for more than 50% of the time for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 between March 16, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Option 1 – Simple method

You can claim $2 for each day worked from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exclude days off, vacation days, sick leave days, and other leaves or absences from your count.

Advantages:

  • Claim up to $400 for the 2020 tax year. $400 is the equivalent of 200 days working from home.
  • No need to maintain a record of supporting documents, expenses or receipts for an audit. 
  • A T2200S is not required from the university.
  • No need to calculate the size of your work space.

By using this method, you cannot claim any other employment expenses (for example motor vehicle expenses) on your taxes. 

Option 2 – Detailed method

If you have documentation for eligible expenses in excess of $400, you can request a Form T2200S with our online form (past employees use this form). The form only validates that we required you to work from home during the pandemic. It’s your responsibility to ensure accuracy. Claim the full amount of your expenses on your taxes and keep your documentation and form in case you’re audited. 

Before requesting a T2200S form, we suggest you use the tools that the CRA has created to assist you in estimating a detailed claim:

  • Use the CRA’s calculator to assist you in determining the eligible claim amount.
  • Review the employment expenses you may be able to claim in the CRA guide. Chapter three advises how to calculate your workspace, internet and cell phone expenses. They also have a frequently-asked questions page.

We have some additional guidance about expenses.

The university cannot advise about what expenses you’re eligible for; please seek advice from a tax consultant or accountant.

Definitions
Work space
It is important to understand the difference between a common workspace and a designated workspace, which is an area in your home that is only used for work. An existing home office that contains your personal documents or a spare bedroom containing personal effects is not a designated workspace. Most people required to work from home as a result of COVID-19 will be considered to be using a common or shared area in their home for work purposes.
Working days
Any day during which an employee performs work, at their home, for the employer. There are no minimum hours attached to this, both full-time and part-time employees may count any day on which they performed work for the employer. Non-working days such as weekends, statutory holidays, vacation or sick days are not counted.