The Internal Revenue Service announced a simplified option that many owners of home-based businesses and some home-based workers may use to figure their deductions for the business use of their homes. The new simplified option is available starting with the 2013 return most taxpayers file early in 2014. Further details on the new option can be found in

IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-13

This Rev. Proc. provides an optional safe harbor method that may be used to determine the amount of deductible expenses attributable to certain business use of a residence during the taxable year.  This safe harbor method is an alternative to the calculation, allocation, and substantiation of actual expenses for purposes of satisfying the requirements of § 280A of the Internal Revenue Code.

The new optional deduction, capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet, will reduce the paperwork and record keeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually. It also provides eligible taxpayers an easier path to claiming the home office deduction. Currently, they are generally required to fill out a IRS Form 8829 calculating allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions.  Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.

Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method.

Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.

Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

This new option is available starting with the 2013 return most taxpayers file early in 2014.

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