As a result of COVID-19, many employees have started working from home. The general expectation is that also after the corona measures end, a large group of employees will continue to work (partly) from home.
Many employers have indicated that working from home will become a structural arrangement and that they therefore wish to provide an allowance to the employee for the additional costs of working from home.
The government asked Nibud (National Institute for Budget Information) to investigate what would be a realistic amount of compensation for the extra costs incurred by an employee as a result of working from home. The costs included in the study by Nibud related to extra water and electricity consumption, heating, coffee, tea and toilet paper and are set at an average of 2 euros per day worked from home. The government accepts the Nibud's findings and proposes to apply an exemption for a fixed amount of maximum 2 euros per day worked from home.
This home-working allowance of 2 euros per day worked from home may also be given if an employee works from home for only a part of the day.
The allowance can also be granted in the form of a fixed allowance per period, as is currently possible for commuting costs.
It is not possible to apply both the exemption for a homework allowance and the exemption for commuting costs (to the fixed place of work) for one and the same working day. If an employee works from home for a part of the day and works at the fixed place of work for the other part of the day, only one of the two exemptions can be applied. If both reimbursements are to be provided, then one of the two reimbursements is taxable.
The same restriction applies to the exempted compensation for commuting by public transport, company car or company bicycle.
However, if an employee works at home for a part of the day and travels from home to a business meeting (not being the fixed place of work), an exempted travel allowance for the business trip can be granted in addition to the exempted home-working allowance.
For the costs that relate to the furnishing of a workplace at home, such as the purchase of a desk or a computer, a separate exemption is already in place and these costs therefore do not fall under the home-working allowance.
Based on the proposal, as of 2022 you may reimburse home-working costs under the specific exemption, up to 2 euros per day worked from home. In order to apply this specific exemption, it is important to have insight into the number of days that an employee usually works from home. This is all the more important as the exemption for home-working costs and the exemption for commuting costs cannot apply for the same working day. In case you have made specific agreements with your employees regarding the number of days they work from home, then an incidental deviation from the agreed ratio does not have to lead to an adjustment of the fixed allowances. In case of a more structural change in the agreements, the fixed allowance for home working costs and commuting costs (to the fixed place of work) should be adjusted.
While this new possibility of providing tax exempt reimbursements of costs associated to working from home will be appreciated by employers, it does lead to a careful consideration of and adjustments to the commuting allowance.
Henk van Keersop
Senior Manager, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)62 285 13 14
Senior Manager Knowledge Centre Tax, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)6 5375 55 65
Rotterdam, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 43 51