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Austria ahead of the curve: tax-cuts and cash for home office expenses

Austria ahead of the curve: tax-cuts and cash for home office expenses

Working from home is seen by many as something that will not change after the pandemic is over

At the end of November, the national government in Austria decided to introduce a tax scheme aimed at people who work from home. The scheme is aimed at young entrepreneurs, freelancers and all employees who have not been able to go back to the office.

The goal of the bill is to reimburse workers, through tax deductibles, for costs they have had to bear to create a workspace at home. Starting in 2022, Austrians will have the opportunity to save up to 1,200 euros on taxes for the cost of heating, electricity, internet and even furniture. The government has gone a step further and announced that employees will have the opportunity to receive a tax cut retroactively on costs incurred in 2021.

‘Work’ is definitely changing

Since the coronavirus-pandemic hit in March 2020, a lot of our habits have changed, from how we shop, to how we celebrate our birthdays or meet with friends. One of the very noticeable changes is in the way we work. Working from home used to be quite a contentious topic for many employers, but the needs of our time have mandated the change in many industries.

As the Omicron variant overtakes infections and health authorities are getting ready for yet another COVID-19 wave, many reminisce about going back to normal. Yet, a lot of experts claim that at the end of the pandemic, not everything will go back to the way it used to be.

With a lot of employees thoroughly enjoying working from home, going back to the office could prove a relic of the past. At the same time, a sustained reduction of office space could seem like a profitable decision for many employers.

At the same time, the costs of working from home, such as buying specific furniture, heating, lighting, internet, as well as rent have now left the realm of the employers' concerns and are almost exclusively borne by the employee.

Austria is one of the first countries to recognise the imbalance and act with legislation to ease the burden.

The ‘small’ and the ‘large’ tax-cut

The new piece of legislation divides home-office employees into two categories with a small and large tax cut. The two groups are separated based on yearly income, with people earning more than 11,000 euros eligible for the small one and those under are eligible for the large one.

Importantly, that income needs to be generated at home, meaning working from home or another space that the person rents themselves.

The small cut gives employees a flat sum of 300 euros and allows them to deduct expenses of furniture, lamps and etc. for up to 300 euros. The large cut gives employees a lump sum of 1,200 euros per year.

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