Good Question: Can you claim work-at-home expenses?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – This week, we’re answering your good questions about taxes because it all starts today.

The tax filing season is just getting going. You can file now.

News10NBC’s Brennan Somers is taking your concerns and questions to a local tax pro.

First up, what if you’ve been working a lot from home and not in office?

John asked me about just that recently: as a individual that has "worked from home" for the past year and a half of the pandemic, what items can I claim on my taxes as a work related expense?"

This is something many of you have dealt with throughout COVID. The bad news and short answer for most people is no.
Congress did away with those breaks with the tax cuts and jobs act a few years ago.

Tax expert Jim Schnell from the local firm Mengel Metzger Barr took me through the details.

SCHNELL: "If you choose to work at home or you have been at home, that path on a federal level is not available to you. In the tax law changes the un-reimbursed business expense area was one of the casualties, if you will, when they doubled the standard deduction level. They started reducing the types of miscellaneous itemized deductions that were available."

See, the rules don’t allow employees to write off business expenses that their company never reimbursed.
That means if you set up a new home office or have one already due to this pandemic anything you’ve bought to help with your job is on you. That applies to w-2 workers, most regular employees.

How about others like freelancers and contractors? You’ve got options.

SCHNELL: "If you are a small business, if you are a Schedule C, a sole proprietor, an LLC, a single member LLC, and all the different types of mechanisms in your business are sourced at home or you’ve started a business at home, you have a path towards documenting and then being able to deduct the expenses for home office."

If that’s you, check out form 8829.

Back to our w-2 folks, if you’re not self-employed make sure you keep track of everything including your receipts. You may be able to get some help on your state taxes in New York.