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Business owners may be able to benefit from the home office deduction

Taxpayers who use their home for business may be eligible to claim a home office deduction. It allows qualifying taxpayers to deduct certain home expenses on their tax return. This can reduce the amount of the taxpayer’s taxable income.

Here are some things to help taxpayers understand the home office deduction and whether they can claim it:

The home office deduction is available to both homeowners and renters.
There are certain expenses taxpayers can deduct. They include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, depreciation, and rent.
Taxpayers must meet specific requirements to claim home expenses as a deduction. Even then, the deductible amount of these types of expenses may be limited.
The term “home” for purposes of this deduction:
Includes a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property.
Also includes structures on the property. These are places like an unattached garage, studio, barn or greenhouse.
Doesn’t include any part of the taxpayer’s property used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn or similar business.
There are two basic requirements for the taxpayer’s home to qualify as a deduction:
There must be exclusive use of a portion of the home for conducting business on a regularly basis. For example, a taxpayer who uses an extra room to run their business can take a home office deduction only for that extra room so long as it is used both regularly and exclusively in the business.
The home must be the taxpayer’s principal place of business. A taxpayer can also meet this requirement if administrative or management activities are conducted at the home and there is no other location to perform these duties. Therefore, someone who conducts business outside of their home, but also uses their home to conduct business may still qualify for a home office deduction.
Expenses that relate to a separate structure not attached to the home will qualify for a home office deduction. It will qualify only if the structure is used exclusively and regularly for business.
Taxpayers who qualify may choose one of two methods to calculate their home office expense deduction:
The simplified option has a rate of $5 a square foot for business use of the home. The maximum size for this option is 300 square feet. The maximum deduction under this method is $1,500.
When using the regular method, deductions for a home office are based on the percentage of the home devoted to business use. Taxpayers who use a whole room or part of a room for conducting their business need to figure out the percentage of the home used for business activities to deduct indirect expenses. Direct expenses are deducted in full.

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FAQ: Deductions | October 2012

Question: Can I deduct separate maintenance paid to my spouse or alimony paid to my former spouse?

Answer:

If you are separated or divorced, you may generally deduct payments of separate maintenance or alimony paid in cash (including check or money order payable on demand) to, or on behalf of, your spouse or former spouse.

 

Question: Am I eligible to claim both my job-related education expenses (minus 2% of AGI) and the Lifetime Learning Credit on my tax return?

Answer:

If you are eligible to deduct educational expenses and are also eligible for one of the education credits (the Lifetime Learning Credit or the American Opportunity Tax Credit), then it is possible to claim both. You cannot use the SAME educational expenses to claim both benefits (no “double benefit”).

  • You may choose to allocate some of your expenses to the deduction and others to the credit.
  • This can be desirable because a qualifying expense for one benefit may not be a qualifying expense for the other tax benefit. For example, the cost of course-related books ordinarily qualifies for the deduction, but not for the Lifetime Learning Credit. For tax years beginning in 2009 and 2010, course-related books may qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

 

 

Question: What types of work-related educational expenses are deductible?

Answer:

Deductible work-related educational expenses include:

  • Amounts spent for tuition, books, supplies, laboratory fees and similar items.
  • Transportation and travel expenses to attend qualified educational activities may also be deductible.

 

 

Question: Is interest on a home equity line of credit deductible as a second mortgage?

Answer:

You may deduct home equity debt interest, as an itemized deduction, if all the following conditions apply:

  • You are legally liable to pay the interest
  • You pay the interest in the tax year
  • The debt is secured with your home
  • The home equity debt is limited to the fair market value of the home reduced by home acquisition debt, up to a total of $100,000.
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