As remote working looks set to continue in Ireland, Taxback.com is raising concerns about additional costs for home workers.
A recent survey from Taxback.com suggests that many people in Ireland expect working from home to continue in some shape throughout 2021. The company asked 1,200 customers to share their thoughts on remote working as 2020 nears its end.
Nearly half (45pc) said they expect to be working in a hybrid model in 2021 – a combination of in-office and at-home work – with a smaller proportion believing they’ll be fully working from home (29pc), full-time in the office in the first half of 2021 (14pc) and full-time in the office in the second half of 2021 (12pc).
Consumer tax manager at the company, Marian Ryan, said there has been a “profound shift” in working life this year, which has caused “practical, financial and mental health challenges”.
“We wanted to ascertain with this survey where people see themselves working into next year and how this impacts them financially, particularly because the current reliefs available are fairly minimal.”
Respondents were asked how working from home has affected their household expenses, such as gas and electricity. More than half (52pc) said their expenses had increased a little. A further 37pc said expenses had increased a lot and 11pc said expenses hadn’t increased at all.
“While the additional costs may not be noticeable or may seem small at the start, working from home can certainly call for some additional expenditure and often employers do not cover, or are not in a position to cover, those costs,” Ryan said.
“The additional cost of household utilities, particularly home heating as we come into winter, is a burden for workers. Being at home more means using more electricity and oil or gas, and for many it might mean having to upgrade to better broadband.
“Workers may have to invest in proper office desks or chairs and while some employers might offer an allowance for this, others will not. All of these costs mount, and while there is a tax relief available for e-workers to help them offset some of these costs, it is very little in the context of what workers have to spend.”
Taxback.com is calling on the Government to introduce a new flat-rate expense relief to give home workers between €160 and €300 in tax relief. It’s suggesting rolling this out as an equivalent to the €3.20 per day that is currently available to home workers through their employer.
“It would give a capital injection to an employer’s finances and take the pressure off paying the cost of employee utilities, as well as bring obvious benefits for employees, who could be much more certain of having these costs supported through their tax regime.”