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Does Your Home-Based Business Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

Posted by Keith Codron | Jan 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

According to the Small Business Administration, approximately 50% of all businesses are home-based. If you are one of the many owners of a home-based small business, you should consider whether your home office meets the tax law requirements for the home office deduction, which is sometimes overlooked as a way to reduce taxes.

How Do I Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

Although the home office deduction was eliminated for employees as part of the 2017 Tax Reform Act, owners of home-based businesses may still take advantage of this deduction as long as they meet the following requirements:

  1. You must use your home office exclusively for the operation of your business. To qualify as “exclusive” use, your office must be located in a separate room (or even a separate section of a room, if you have a clear division, such as a partition), so as to exclude personal activities from that part of your home. If you use the office during the week, but your children use it as a playroom on the weekend, your office will not qualify for the home office deduction. If you occasionally engage in very limited personal activities, e.g., if you make an occasional personal phone call from your office, just as you might if you worked at another location, this is not likely to preclude you from meeting the exclusive use test.
    • Exception #1. You do not have to comply with the exclusive use test if you use your home as a daycare facility for children, elderly people, or people who are physically or mentally disabled, as long as you have obtained any license or certification required by state law.
    • Exception #2. If you store product samples or inventory in your home, you can still qualify for the home office deduction even if you use the same space to store personal items, as long as your home is the only location of your business.
  2. You must use the space in your home regularly for your trade or business. Although the IRS does not provide a clear definition of what constitutes “regular” use of a home office, it seems clear that if you use the office several hours a day for activities related to your business, you will likely qualify for the deduction. If the office space is only used incidentally and occasionally, it is unlikely that this would meet the regular use test.
  3. You must use the home office space either as the principal place of business for your trade or business or as a place where you meet and deal with your patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your trade or business. You will meet this requirement if you use your home office space for your most important business activities and if it is where you spend most of the time you are engaged in business activities.

The IRS has made it clear that your home office is likely to qualify if you use it for the administrative or management activities of your business and do not have another fixed location where you engage in those activities. So, even if you do most of your work elsewhere, if your business has just one office, which is located in your home, you probably will pass the test if you use it for business-related administrative or management tasks. For example, if you have a business that installs underground pet fence systems, and spend much of your time installing fences at your customers' property, if you conduct all of your administrative and management activities in your home office, it is

About the Author

Keith Codron

Keith Codron is an Orange County attorney with more than 40 years of experience in the field of trusts and estates. He has been certified as a specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California. Mr. Codron's practice is focused...

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