Home office lump sum: Consideration of travel expenses and expenses for public transport time tickets

July 16, 2021

The possibility of deducting a lump sum as income-related expenses for each day on which the taxpayer carries out his business or professional activities exclusively in his home was introduced. The deduction of this home office lump sum can be made irrespective of the existence of a home office eligible for tax purposes and is limited in time to the years 2020 and 2021. The flat rate amounts to €5 for each calendar day, up to a maximum of €600 in total per year.

Since the home office allowance can only be deducted on days on which the taxpayer performs his or her activities exclusively in the home and does not visit any place of activity located outside the home, a deduction of travel expenses (for travel from home to the first place of activity, travel expenses) on these days is not possible. If the taxpayer’s business or professional activities do not take place exclusively at home, e.g. because he/she also visits another place of activity, he/she may claim the lump-sum distance allowance or the resulting travel expenses. The home office lump sum cannot be claimed for these days. This also makes it clear that the home office flat rate does not necessarily bring advantages, as it can be lower than the commuting flat rate.

The question now arose as to how the deductibility of expenses for public transport season tickets is to be handled in this context. In this regard, the Thuringia Finance Ministry has now communicated the uniform opinion of the Finance Administration in its decree dated February 17, 2021 (Ref. S 1901-2020 Corona 21.15, 30169/2021): The expenses actually incurred for a time ticket for the use of public transportation for the trips between home and the first place of employment can be claimed as income-related expenses to the extent that they exceed the total distance allowance determined in the calendar year. This also applies if the employee has purchased a time travel pass in anticipation of regular use for the journey to the first place of work, but is then unable to use it to the planned extent due to the activity in the home office. These expenses do not have to be allocated to individual working days.