Employees Allowed Tax-Free Reimbursement of Home Office Expenses

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July 13th 2020
Tax Week 15
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Employees Allowed Tax-Free Reimbursement of Home Office Expenses

Temporary measure until April 2021 allows employers to refund employees for the costs of home office equipment fully without resulting in a benefit tax charge.

Any employer reimbursed expenses to an employee for the purposes of purchasing home-office equipment (in order to work from home) is to be made tax-free until the end of the 2020-2021 tax year.

As part of the pandemic response effort people are being encouraged to work from home if they can do so, and therefore any equipment purchased from the 16th March 2020 onward will not have costs refunded by employers subjected to a charge for tax or national insurance.

This could include equipment such as computers, laptops, computer accessories, desks, office chairs or other types of office equipment. Employers will no longer need to report reimbursed expenses which are for these types of items that would normally lead to a tax charge.

Prior to this measure there was a tax-exemption on home-office equipment that was owned and provided by the employer, retained property of the employer and there was insignificant personal use by the employee. It did not provide any tax relief if the employee purchased the equipment and was reimbursed by the employer. Existing tax-reliefs still cover where 'required' equipment is purchased for work under the 'wholly and exclusively' principle.

Before the pandemic an employee buying home-office equipment and then subsequently receiving a refund for the equipment would have to pay tax and NICs on the refund.

The new updated policy takes official effect from June 11th 2020, however HMRC should not pursue people that purchased equipment on or after March 16th 2020 and received reimbursed payments from employers for a tax charge.

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