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Tax authority urges teleworkers to claim deductions

Working from home during the pandemic could earn tax savings.

Henkilö ruokapöydän ääressä työskentelee kannettavalla tietokonella.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland’s tax authority is reminding taxpayers to deduct expenses for working from home during the pandemic.

The tax office is urging telecommuters to adjust or update their pre-filled tax declaration forms in line with how and where they worked last year.

The deadline for declaring 2020 income to the tax authorities is approaching. Taxpayers wishing to make adjustments on pre-filled forms must do so on the MyTax site by 4, 11 or 18 May, depending on the date specified on the form.

Kati Malinen, chief legal officer at the Taxpayers Association of Finland (TAF), said that while salaried employees usually don’t have many opportunities to make deductions, the situation is now different.

Home office

The space used for working from home is a major deduction telecommuters can expense in the 2020 tax year.

An automatic maximum home office deduction of 900 euros is available for workers who have been telecommuting for at least half of the working days within a tax year.

"If you’ve bought an electric desk and a proper office chair, you may have spent more than 900 euros. In that case, you need to calculate the actual expense," Malinen explained.

If the number of remote days is less than half of the total number of working days, the deduction falls to 450 euros, and drops further to 225 euros if the taxpayer has only occasionally worked from home.

However, those renting an office or work space outside of the home must submit a separate declaration along with receipts to the tax authorities.

Commuting expenses

Every tax year, workers can claim commuting expenses for travelling to and from work, which is usually calculated according to the least expensive means of transportation, such as public transit.

The taxpayer’s own liability threshold in this category is 750 euros.

"If you’ve typically commuted long distances but have stayed home since last spring, you may owe back taxes if your commuting expenses were already calculated into your tax card," Malinen said.

For the 2020 tax year, telecommuters should therefore adjust their travel expenses accordingly, as the amounts may have changed significantly from the first submission of the pre-filled declaration.

Face masks are also deductible commuting expenses in 2020. People using public transport to get to work are able to deduct up to two euros a day for masks from 13 August through the end of the year.

The tax authority has said it expects to see many adjustments to prefilled declarations as surveys have indicated that some 60 percent of taxpayers transitioned to working from home last year.

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