In this mini-guide we will go over the eligibility to claim the new temporary flat rate method for work-from-home due to COVID expenses, as well as some common questions about this new deduction.
There are also some detailed help resources directly from CRA at the bottom of this page.
You are eligible to claim the temporary flat rate deduction for the period you worked from home, if you meet all of the criteria:
- you worked from home in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic or your employer required you to work from home
- you worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2021
- the expenses are used directly in your work during the period
Temporary flat rate method
This method is easy peasy: if you meet the three eligibility criteria above, you can choose to simply claim a $2/day deduction from your income (up to a $500 maximum). You don’t need any receipts, or any forms from your employer.
A “day” means any day you worked full-time or part-time hours. It doesn’t count days off, vacation, stat holidays, sick days, or other leaves of absence. So if you worked Monday to Friday for four weeks from home, that’s 5 days times 4 weeks = 20 days! If one of those Wednesday’s was Canada Day and you didn’t work, you’d only count 19 days.
Simply search for “work from home” in the search box and add the Employment Expenses and Work-From-Home section, select that you worked from home due to COVID, say Yes to claiming the flat rate method, enter the number of days in the “Number of days you worked from home in 2021 due to COVID-19” box, and you’re done!
What if I worked multiple jobs?
If you choose to use the temporary flat rate method, then you can only use the flat rate method for any jobs, and you’re still capped at the $500 maximum for all jobs combined. If you wish to use the flat rate, add up all the individual days you worked at home from COVID, and enter that number.
For example, if you worked two jobs in the same day, that still counts as one day. If you worked one job 3 days a week, and another job 2 days a week, all on different days, then that’s 5 days a week to claim.
What if I want to claim the flat rate for one job and the detailed method for another?
If you choose to use the temporary flat rate method for any job, then you can’t claim the detailed method for another. You’d need to choose between the flat rate for both, or the detailed method for both.
What if I have other employment expenses to claim?
If you choose to use the temporary flat rate method, you can not claim other employment expenses, such as wage repayment or legal fees to collect due wages. You would need to select the detailed method to claim those.
I entered 200 days but my refund didn’t go up by $500, why’s that?
The flat rate is a deduction from your income, like an RRSP contribution. So you won’t get dollar-for-dollar back, you’ll get a percentage based on your marginal tax rate. For example, someone in Ontario making over $48,535 up to $78,783 would get 29.65% back on every dollar. They’d see their refund go up by about $119 if they claimed at least 200 days.
What if I live with other people, can I still use the flat rate?
Each individual working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses. This means multiple people working from the same home can each make a claim.