Home office and taxes: What you need to know

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Home office and taxes: What you need to know

The Corona crisis relegated many workers to the home office. Meanwhile, however, the home office has become a ubiquitous part of the working world. For many, it's even a requirement of their employer. But what does this mean for taxes? How is employer compensation for the use of a home office treated? What professional expenses can be deducted? And how do the rules differ by canton? In this article, you'll find out everything you need to know about home office and taxes.

Compensation for the workplace

If you work in a home office, the question arises as to whether the employer's compensation for the use of the private study is considered a taxable salary or a tax-free reimbursement of expenses. The answer depends on whether or not your employer provides a workspace.

If the employer provides you with a workspace, the compensation is considered taxable wages. This means that you must declare it as income in your tax return and pay taxes and social security contributions on it.

However, if the employer does not provide you with a workplace, the compensation is considered a tax-free expense allowance. This means that you do not have to declare it in your tax return and do not pay taxes and social security contributions on it.

The amount of compensation is not set by law, but is agreed between employers and employees.

Other compensation

In addition to the compensation for the workroom, your employer may also reimburse you for other costs incurred in connection with the home office. These include, for example, the costs of IT infrastructure, internet, office supplies, etc. These costs are also considered tax-free expense reimbursements, provided they can be substantiated. Otherwise, they are treated as taxable wages.

Deduction of professional expenses

If you work from a home office, you may also be able to deduct some professional expenses from your taxes. These include:

  • Workroom expenses: if you use a separate room exclusively for professional purposes and have no other place of work, you can deduct the pro-rated costs of rent, heating, electricity, etc. The amount of the deduction depends on the size of the room and the rent.
  • Travel costs: If you occasionally have to travel to your place of work, you can deduct the actual travel costs of, for example, public transport, or the flat rate of 0.70 francs per kilometer if you use the car.
  • Meal costs: If you have to eat out for business reasons, you can deduct the actual meal costs or the flat rate of 15 francs per day.

Cantonal differences

The tax treatment of home office can vary depending on the canton. Due to the Corona crisis, some cantons have issued special regulations to accommodate employees. For example, the cantons of Zurich, Bern and Basel-Stadt have increased the deduction for the workroom or reduced the deductible for meal costs. It is therefore advisable to contact the respective tax office directly if you are unsure.


The home office entails some tax consequences that both employers and employees must take into account. The employer's compensation for the use of the private study and other costs are taxable or tax-free, depending on the situation. Employees can also deduct some professional expenses from their taxes if they meet the requirements. Since the regulations may vary from canton to canton, it is still advisable to find out in advance.

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