It’s a month ‘till Labor Day, but come fall, tens of millions of Americans will still be working from home. It’s an open question, too, whether people will ever go back to an office five days a week, nine to five. Congress should update the tax code to reflect this new reality: The American home is no longer just a place for family and leisure, but also a place of business.
More than 67 million people — 42 percent of the American labor force — are working at home full-time right now, according to Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom. With COVID-19 still spreading, more companies, from Apple to Wayfair, are pushing back target dates for office returns into 2021.
It’s quite likely, then, that tens of millions of people will have spent a full year using their homes as offices — and, with staggered hours and days, they will spend much of next year doing the same.
This costs money. Workers are powering computers with their own electricity and Internet connections, and, home all day, they will use more air conditioning and heat. A portion of the rent or the mortgage, too, now subsidizes work, not home.
Come tax time, most workers who attempt to deduct some of the thousands of dollars in extra costs will be surprised: they can’t. Effective with the 2018 tax law, workers who earn a regular salary or wage from an employer can’t deduct any home-office expenses.
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