SARS officials are doing “house calls” to verify home office expense claims

Yes…having tea with a SARS official, in your home is not that uncommon as of late.

Surprised? Don’t be…as anticipated there has been a massive increase in taxpayers claiming for home office expenses this past year, and as such SARS are doing a huge amount of home inspections.

We have all experienced the “new norm” of working from home in recent months, either voluntarily or having been instructed by employers to do so, and naturally, we were all hoping to get a little relief from SARS this year.

If your home office doesn’t stack up with SARS’ expectations, they will reject your claim. SARS have already rejected about 80% of claims!

Here’s a quick reminder of what to keep in mind:

  • The space that you work in must be exclusive – i.e. you can’t share this space with anyone, not even your spouse;
  • You need to use it regularly for work purposes, just because you have a home office does not entitle you to claim the appropriate expenses, unless you actively and regularly use the office. In other words, you can’t use the local coffee shop as your work “hang out” and claim for the home office that you never use;
  • Using a dining room table, sitting in the lounge, or using the patio to conduct the work you need to do, unfortunately, does not count as an office area;
  • It must be equipped with appropriate equipment that aligns with your profession;
  • You can’t use this space as an office during the week and a TV room over the weekends.

How will SARS know if your home office complies with the legal requirements you may ask? Simple, they are doing home inspections.

That’s right, they are visiting homes to ensure that a home office claim is supported by the appropriate and legally required infrastructure, hence why so many claims are being rejected.

COVID-`19 and the necessity to work from home caught everyone off guard in recent months, resulting in a lot of grey areas coming out of the woodwork. It goes without saying that legislation around home office expenses needs a review, especially if working from home becomes the new way of working.