Master Expense Management: Navigating Home Office Expenses in Germany

4 min read
Aug 22, 2023

Regardless of whether a business trip begins at the employee's place of residence or at the company's location, expenses are typically incurred. If the employee is away from home for more than 8 hours, they can claim the "small" expense rate of €14. For absences exceeding 24 hours, the "large" expense allowance of €28 applies.

In today's modern work environment, the concept of a "first place of work" has evolved beyond the traditional office setting. With the rise of remote work and the home office, employees can now claim expenses even when they are away from their own four walls. Whether it's attending a customer appointment or embarking on a business trip, individuals working from a home office are entitled to reimbursement. But what sets these expenses apart from those incurred during business trips? Let's dive deeper into the details.

Expenses on business trips vs. home office expenses

As we all know, expenses are a common occurrence on business trips. However, it's important to note that expenses can also be incurred in the home office. So, what types of expenses can be claimed in the home office?

For employees working in a home office, it's important to consider that not everyone may have the necessary office furniture. In cases where a desk, chair, computer, printer, or other items need to be purchased for work, these expenses can potentially be claimed for tax purposes if they are not reimbursed by the employer (with correct proof of purchase). Additionally, office supplies such as paper, pens, folders, and printer cartridges can also be deducted as part of these expenses.

Additional expenses that employees may incur while working from a home office include costs for electricity, water, and heating. Furthermore, if an employee takes out a dedicated telephone or internet contract for their home office, these expenses can also be reimbursed. It's important to note that these expenses don't have to be directly reimbursed by the employer since they are considered a voluntary benefit. Instead, employees can claim their home office expenses through their income tax return.

Some examples of expenses that can be reimbursed for the home office include:

  • Furnishings such as a desk or office chair
  • Electronic equipment such as a computer, printer or smartphone
  • Telephone and internet contract
  • Storage solutions such as cabinets and selves
  • Stationary supplies including folders, pens, paper, etc.
  • Additional costs for electricity, water or heating

Expense claims for the home office

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in employees transitioning to working from home - if not permanently, at least on a hybrid basis. With the implementation of Covid-19 regulations, business trips were limited, prompting employers to instruct their employees to work from their home offices. In such cases, employees are eligible to claim deductions for their home office expenses when filing their taxes.

It's important to note here that voluntary work-from-home arrangements, even when a workplace is available at the company, are not recognised for tax purposes.

Business trip expenses when working from a home office

As previously mentioned, employees are eligible for expense claims regardless of their initial place of work. If an employee departs from their home office for activities such as visiting clients, attending business events, or participating in training courses, and the duration exceeds 8 hours, they are entitled to claim a per diem.

Home office flat rate 2023

In 2023, the home office per diem has seen a significant increase, now standing at €1,260 compared to the previous amount of €600. This means that taxpayers can now claim €6 per day for their home office expenses on their income tax return. With a maximum claim of €1,260 per year, even those who spend up to 210 days working from their home office will benefit.

If an employee can demonstrate that a specific room or area in their home is exclusively used for work purposes, they can claim the home office flat rate on their tax return. Interestingly, this benefit extends to multiple individuals living in the same household who share a study, as each person is eligible to claim the home office flat rate. However, it's important to note that a home office can only be recognised as such if it is used privately for a maximum of 9%.

For a more comprehensive understanding of the tax relief available to employees who work from a home office, you can refer to our detailed article (in German) on the home office flat rate.

Correctly reporting home office expenses

Home office expenses should be reported separately from regular business trip expenses. When claiming home office expenses, it is important to include them in the salary statement as a separate category. Additionally, these expenses should be pre-approved in an expense regulation to ensure they can be paid out tax-free.

Expense Management with Mobilexpense

Are you managing employees both in your corporate office and in their home offices? Do they frequently go on business trips? Streamline your accounting process and increase your compliance with the practical tools offered by Mobilexpense! Our software and apps are specifically designed to simplify your life and enhance productivity for you and your employees. Our solutions seamlessly integrate with various HR platforms, financial tools, and more, allowing you to work effortlessly with your preferred software.

For your employees who travel, whether they start from their corporate desk or home office, explore our innovative travel expense app! This app enables easy capture of all receipts incurred during business trips through mobile scanning and OCR technology. The app automatically stores and calculates the maximum values for expenses and accommodation allowances.

With our integrated credit card solution, payments made with the company credit card are automatically linked to the scanned receipts. Say goodbye to the tedious task of searching and storing physical invoices and receipts. According to the latest version of the GoBD, digital storage of receipts (with a few exceptions) is now permissible, eliminating the need for the original copies.

Download our expense management solution buying guide to help you find the tool that will help you navigate expenses in Germany, including home office costs - or check out our other articles on German expense compliance.