If you worked from a home office for two weeks or more this year the Canada Revenue Agency says you are eligible for tax deductions and one Steinbach accountant is encouraging you to take that opportunity.

Leo Deurbrouck of Leo’s Mobile Tax Service says that he believes Canadians should keep as much money in their pocket as they are legally allowed to through tax laws.

According to Deurbrouck, the CRA is offering two different ways one can claim home office expenses; a simplified method, and a more detailed method.

The simplified method was introduced by the government just this past year. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than usual were working from their bedrooms, basements, and dining rooms, likely without knowing they could gain a tax deduction for doing so.

“In the simplified method, that was introduced recently you get two bucks a day for up to a maximum of 200 working days, so a maximum claim of $400.”

Deurbrouck says this model is ideal for people who were unaware they could get a write-off for working from home and did not collect their records throughout the year. He notes the new T2200S form is easy to fill out as very little official documentation is required. While one might jump at the chance to save a quick $400 with virtually no effort, Deurbrook's advice is to use the more traditional route.

“If somebody has kept all of their documents, I would definitely recommend going the detailed method because you would likely get a larger claim,” he says

To figure out roughly how much you are eligible for under the detailed method (the T2200 form) does require a bit of mathematics. First, Deurbrouck explains, a basic calculation is needed to determine the percentage of your allowable claim. Here there are two options: either square footage used divided by the square footage of your house or total rooms used divided by the total number of rooms in your house.

“Generally we would use whatever of those calculations is the higher percentage,” he says.

Next, he says you would add all of your expenses together, including items like property tax, mortgage insurance, hydro costs, and internet bills. Even the depreciation of computer equipment or furniture can be taken into account.

“And, if you had to do a major renovation to make a home office, you could claim a percentage of that too,” he adds. “You get to claim pretty much everything for a home office.”

Once those expenses are calculated, Deurbrouck says you take the percentage of your allowable claim from that gross total.

To outline the process in a different way, Deurbrouck provides the following example:

Tom makes $30,000 a year. His relatively small house has six rooms and he works in one of them. With that in mind, the percentage of his allowable claim is 1 over 6, or 16.6%. This past year, Tom has paid $2,000 for his property tax, $6,000 for his mortgage interest, another $1,500 for hydro, and a small depreciation claim on his computer of $350. Altogether, he has $9,850 in gross expenses. 16.6% of $9,850 is roughly $1,635 which rounds down to a net benefit of roughly $1,235.

So, by way of comparison, Deurbrouck says Tom would be able to deduct $400 from his $30,000 salary using the simple method or $1,235 using the more complete method.

“That’s a substantial difference,” he says. “But keep in mind that is not cash money that you are going to be getting on your tax return, that is deferred income."