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Tax Breaks

IRS Makes Claiming the Home-Office Deduction Easier

A simplified option available for 2013 tax returns requires fewer calculations and will save taxpayers time.

If you work from home, deducting costs associated with your home office on your tax return can be a money saver. But claiming this write-off has been somewhat complicated -- until now, that is.

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The IRS recently announced a simplified option to make it easier for taxpayers to calculate and claim the home-office deduction. Although those who work at home won't be able to take advantage of the simplified option on their 2012 returns, it will be available for 2013 tax returns, which taxpayers will file in early 2014. The IRS estimates it will reduce the paperwork and record-keeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

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Currently, to claim the home-office deduction you have to fill out the 43-line Form 8829, which involves substantiating actual expenses. with the new method, you don't deduct actual expenses. Instead, you determine the amount of deductible expenses by multiplying a prescribed rate ($5) by the square footage of the area of your residence that is used for business purposes, not to exceed 300 square feet. So that means the deduction is capped at $1,500.

With the new option, you don't depreciate the portion of your home used for business, and you don't have to allocate deductions for mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses between personal and business use. You'll simply claim these expenses as itemized deductions on Schedule A. However, to claim the home-office deduction under the new option, you still must use the space regularly and exclusively for your business.

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