Revenue accepts that employees will incur additional utility expenses in the performance of their duties while working from home. This is categorized as eWorking. It specifically relates to the income tax treatment of eWorkers, sometimes referred to as remote workers, for the purpose of claiming income tax relief for expenses incurred by the individual during periods of working from home/remote working.
Furthermore, it deals with other ancillary issues around eWorking such as the provision of equipment by the employer, certain exemptions under Benefit-In-Kind (BIK), and clarification regarding the ‘normal place of work’ for e-worker
Generally, E-working is when someone is working from home and completing his/her duties by using information and communication technologies.
working at home either on a full-time or part-time basis or
working some of the time at home and the remainder in the office.
logging onto the employer’s computer system remotely;
sending and receiving email, data, or files remotely;
developing ideas, products, and services remotely.
Conditions for an Employee to Qualify as an eWorker
In order for an employee to qualify as an eWorker, for the purposes of claiming income tax relief for expenses incurred in working from home, the following conditions must be met.
- There must be a formal agreement in place between the employer and the employee under which the employee is required to work from home;
- An employee must be required to perform substantive duties of the employment at home; and
- An employee must be required to work for substantial periods at home.
Treatment of Expenses Incurred by an eWorker
It is acknowledged that eWorkers will incur certain expenditures in the performance of the duties of their employment when working remotely or when working from home. These expense items such as additional heating, electricity, and broadband costs are allowed as a tax deduction for income tax purposes. However, it should be noted that capital items such as laptops, computers, office equipment, and office furniture purchased by an employee are not allowable deductions
There are two options to Claim these Expenses by eWorkers
- Expenses paid by Employer
- Employer Does not pay the Expenses
Expenses paid by Employer:
Revenue allows an employer to make payments of up to €3.20 per day tax-free to employees who satisfy the conditions for the relief. Amounts in excess of €3.20 paid by the employer should be subjected to income tax, PRSI, and USC as normal. Records of payments made must be retained by the employer for the purpose of any potential future Revenue compliance intervention.
The employer does not make a payment towards eWorker expenses
Where an employer does not pay €3.20 per day to an eWorker, the employee is not entitled to claim a round sum. Where additional expenses are incurred, the employee is entitled to claim the following:
- Electricity and heat - 10% of the cost of electricity and heat apportioned on the basis of the number of days worked from home over the year.
- Broadband - 30% of the cost of broadband apportioned on the basis of the number of days worked from home over the year. This concession, commencing in the tax year 2020, will apply for the duration of the pandemic.
To claim an allowable e-working expense, the employee must have incurred the cost and it is the responsibility of the employee to retain the proof of payment. If an expense is shared between two or more people, the cost can be apportioned based on the amount paid by each individual.
Making a Claim:
eWorking expenses can be claimed by completing an Income Tax return. An individual can complete this form on the Revenue website as follows:
- Sign in to myAccount;
- Click on the ‘Review your tax’ link in PAYE Services;
- select the Income Tax return for the relevant tax year;
- Click ‘Your Job’
- Select ‘Remote Working (eWorking) Expenses’ in the ‘Tax Credits and Reliefs’ page and insert the amount of expense at the ‘Amount Claimed’ section.
As a claim may be selected for future examination, all documentation relating to a claim should be retained for a period of six years from the end of the tax year to which the claim relates.
Directors and Sole Traders can apply for eWorking claims too:
Directors who work in the business can claim this tax relief too. As above, you may choose to simply put in an expense claim for the amount and it can be paid at the discretion of the business.
Sole traders that do not rent office space will often put their home working costs through the business anyway; for example, a percentage of their rent and utility bills are business expenses if they use their home as a base for work. If you already do this, you cannot also claim the €3.20 per day tax relief. However, you could claim €3.20 per day instead of this if it is more advantageous to you.