Planning for home office expense claims for 2023

When the pandemic struck in March of 2020 and public health lockdowns were imposed, virtually all Canadian employees were required to work from home, most for the first time.

In the nearly four years since then, the work landscape has shifted, as many employees continue to work entirely from home, some have returned to the office full-time, and many, perhaps most, now utilize some kind of hybrid arrangement, dividing their work week between their employer’s work site and a home office.

As the necessity and availability of work-from-home arrangements changed (and changed again) over the past four years, the tax rules governing deductions which could be claimed for home office expenses changed (and changed again) to meet those realities.

Employees who work from home have always been able to claim a tax deduction for costs related to a home office. Under the tax rules in place prior to 2020, a claim for a deduction for home office expenses was available only where employees met a number of criteria and could provide the tax authorities with an itemized accounting of eligible home office expenses incurred, as well as attestation from their employer of the terms of the work-from-home arrangement – known as the “detailed” method. However, when work-from-home arrangements became essentially mandatory in 2020, the federal government greatly simplified the rules governing those claims, to provide for a temporary flat-rate method which eliminated the requirement for documentation of home office costs. That flat-rate method was available (with some variations) during 2020, 2021 and 2022, but cannot be used for home office expenses claims for 2023.

For 2023, the “detailed method” for claiming home office expenses will be the only method under which such costs may be deducted for tax purposes. What follows is a summary of the current rules outlined on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website with respect to claims for home office expense deductions using the detailed method which will apply to such claims during 2023.

In order to claim a deduction for costs related to a work from home space using the detailed method, an employee must meet at least one of the following conditions.

  • The employee worked from home during the year as a consequence of the pandemic (including employees who were given a choice and elected to work from home); or
  • The employee was required by their employer to work from home during the year (this can be just a verbal or written agreement between employer and employee).

In addition, at least one of the following criteria must also be satisfied in order to claim work from home costs under the detailed method.

  • The work at home space is where the individual mainly (more than 50% of the time) did their work for a period of at least four consecutive weeks during the year; or
  • The individual uses the workspace only to earn their employment income. They must also use it on a regular and continuous basis for meeting clients, customers, or other people in the course of their employment duties.

Once these threshold criteria are met, a broad range of costs become deductible by the employee. Specifically, a salaried employee can claim and deduct the part of specified costs that relate to their work from home space, such as rent, utilities costs like electricity, heating, water (or the portion of a condo fee attributable to such utilities costs), home maintenance and minor repair costs, and internet access (but not internet connection) fees.

Once total expenses are tallied, the taxpayer must determine the percentage of those expenses which can be deducted as home office expenses, and the CRA provides detailed information on its website of how such determination is made. Generally, the employee determines that percentage based on the square footage of the workspace as a percentage of the overall square footage of the home. Where the workspace is not a separate room but is a shared space like a dining room, the employee must also calculate the number of hours for which that space is dedicated to work from home activities. Detailed information on how to make those calculations (including an online calculator) can be found on the CRA website at In all cases, the CRA can ask the taxpayer to provide documentation and support for claims made using the detailed method.

There is one further requirement for employees who seek to deduct costs incurred in relation to a home office using the detailed method. Each such employee must obtain either a T2200S Declaration of Conditions of Employment for Working at Home Due to COVID-19 - or T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment - On those forms, the employer must certify the work from home arrangement and confirm that the employee is required to pay their own home office expenses and is not being reimbursed for any such expenses incurred. Where there is any kind of reimbursement provided, the employer must specify the type of expense reimbursed, and the amount of reimbursement. And, of course, the employee cannot claim a deduction for any expenses for which reimbursement was received.

For the many taxpayers who were able to avail themselves of the simplified method for claiming a deduction for home office expenses in 2020, 2021, or 2022, the upcoming filing season for returns for 2023 may be the first time they encounter the rules and requirements which govern claims for home office expenses using the traditional detailed method. It would, therefore, be advisable to do some upfront planning to determine whether a deduction claim can be made for 2023 and to ensure that any record keeping needed to support that deduction is done before tax filing season arrives a few months from now.