Sci-Tech

Home office flat rate dispute: “I can’t explain to the seller why he won’t get anything” – economy

For people who are bothered in the home office and have enough of the cold, humid November and corona blues in Germany, the travel company Tui has a solution: Why not pack your laptop and suitcase and move where it is warm? Daughter Tui Robinson, who currently suffers from an acute shortage of vacationers in her clubs, wants to turn the hotel rooms into a home office. From 67 euros per night, the club operator promises German employees fast and stable internet, a separate office space next to the bedroom and an ergonomic table chair. You can already book Portugal, Fuerteventura, Turkey and Mallorca should follow.

Fast internet, chairs suitable for the back and work space just for themselves – millions of employees can only dream of that. Your home office is a work area at the kitchen table; in the evening you sit in a chair that serves as an office chair with children at the dining table.

Employees often stay with the costs

What began as a temporary solution could become a permanent solution: Many people have not even left the home office, others will release the office in the face of a second lock and will work from home again. When retreating to the living room, the employer benefits from private infrastructure: the internet in the apartment and the home phone are used for work, and the home office also increases the cost of electricity and heating. So far, the University of Applied Sciences Dortmund recently asked 1,700 insurance employees if the employer at least partially contributes to rent, rising water, heating, telephone and electricity costs, and whether they are the boss. We provide office furniture and IT equipment . The result was a trance: about 80 percent of respondents were left entirely at their expense.

No study: Many employees are looking for a work corner in the apartment. Photo: dpa-tmn

The flat rate should help

Trade unions, tax experts and the FDP now want to help those affected, at least with tax breaks. This is a lump sum that employees can use to claim their additional costs for tax purposes. This is to be enshrined in the annual tax law, which is currently being discussed in Parliament’s Finance Committee.

“I imagine a simple flat rate that allows employees to claim their additional electricity, water, heating, telephone, internet and other expenses for tax purposes, even if they don’t have a study, but only clean the work area in the living room or kitchen table. ” Katja Hessel, chairwoman of the committee, said the Tagesspiegel. The FDP politician pays 50 euros a month, as does the German Trade Union Federation (DGB).

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Five euros a day or 50 euros a month

The federal states of Hesse and Bavaria propose five euros in the home office for the whole day, the German tax union considers 50 to 75 euros per month to be appropriate. If the state gives a helping hand to the economy, “the tax authorities must also satisfy the small people who keep the business going,” says Thomas Eigenhaler, the department’s chairman.

That’s what it looks like today

Currently, the study can only be deducted by taxpayers who have enough space at home. “If you press, you get nothing,” criticizes Isabel Klocke of the Taxpayers’ Association.

In order for tax authorities to play, 90 percent of the room must be used for business purposes. “There must not be a sofa,” warns Eigenhaler. In addition, if the employer provides employment in the company, the dream of a tax deductible office is over.

Technology: The cost of laptops or headsets can already be deducted if you also use the device for work. Photo: imago images / Jochen Tack

A little tax is still possible. Anyone who buys a new laptop or smartphone and uses it exclusively for business purposes can deduct all costs from the tax as advertising expenses. Half of the calls made or half of the browsing takes place privately and that is 50 percent. If the equipment after deducting VAT does not cost more than 800 euros, the full costs can be made in the year of purchase. For current internet and telephone contracts, the employer can pay the employer 20% tax without tax, up to a maximum of 20 euros per month. The union is examining whether this could be extended to rent and heating subsidies, said Union financial policy spokeswoman Antje Tillmann, Tagesspiegel.

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Is it just for high-income people?

Tillmann criticizes another contribution for the home office. “You couldn’t explain to the salesperson, educator and nurse why they came,” says the CDU politician. Lothar Binding, an SPD financial expert, also has abdominal pain. “Many small people work in places where they can’t even do a home office,” said a spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group. “Why should they lose when others are released?”

Katja Hessel is not convinced. “Not only people with high incomes and privileged people work in the home office, but also many people with low incomes.” The tax assistant enters in the same way as a business consultant, “emphasizes the financial policy.

The flat rate can be five euros per day or 50 euros per month. Photo: dpa

Employers should pay

In the first place, Binding believes that the employer is asked to compensate for further work. The Greens see this as well. Lisa Paus, spokeswoman for the Federal Parliament’s fiscal policy, also calls for more state support for employees: Instead of roaming the office, short-term contributions and a wage bonus for systemically relevant professions need to be increased. The Finance Committee wants to deal with the topic next Wednesday, it does not look good for the home office’s flat rate.

Is the flat rate too expensive?

Financial considerations are also behind the dispute. Even today, each employee has a flat-rate income allowance of 1,000 euros per year. The € 600 increase “could not be financed by the state,” says Binding.

But the taxpayers’ union is at odds. The introduction of a flat rate for the home office should not be disadvantageous for the tax authorities, says Isabel Klocke. Because when employees work from home, they cannot charge any commuting costs, the so-called commuting allowance. A tax expert did the math: A home office flat rate of five euros a day pays off for tax authorities when commuting is 16 kilometers or more – a very normal distance.

It cannot be completely ruled out that employees today also pay a commute for the days they spend in the home office. Wrong but difficult to control for the tax office. A flat rate for a home office could change that. “It’s a bridge for tax compliance,” says Thomas Eigenhaler of the Tax Union.

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