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Employers can pay staff tax free to cover cost of home-working 
Tens of thousands of people working from home during the coronavirus crisis can claim tax relief against the cost of lighting, heat and even broadband. 
Companies are asking staff where possible to work from home as they look to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and try to manage social distancing in office environments. 
Many of these workers will never have operated from home up to now, and are likely to be completely unaware that they are entitled to avail of e-worker relief, says Joanna Murphy, chief executive of tax refund specialists Taxback. com. 
“Thankfully technology has meant that people all over the country have been able to go home and continue their work from there,” she said. “But it is a difficult time for everyone, and households throughout the country are already feeling the financial impact of this. If there are any supports available to people it’s important that they are made aware.” 
Revenue already has measures in place to reimburse people who habitually work from home even before the latest crisis for their work-related expenses. Those payments are also available now to the wave of people currently forced to work from home, Taxback.com said. 
“This is a benefit that, in our experience, is already heavily underutilised,” Taxback.com said. “But now more than ever people are going to need all the financial support they can get.” 
Ms Murphy said that employers can pay €3.20 a day to any staff member to cover these additional power, heating and broadband costs. The payment is tax free, including from PRSI and universal social charge. However, there is no legal obligation for an employer to make the payment. 
However, where they choose not to – or if they are simply not in a position to pay – the home-worker can claim the amount back against their own tax bill. 
“Any claims made will need to be supported with evidence in the form of receipts and possibly a letter from your employer stating that you do, in fact, work from home and that they do not reimburse you for these expenses,” said Ms Murphy. 
Where costs are incurred not just for the worker but for wider members of the family, Revenue will limit relief to just a portion of the overall cost. 
Ms Murphy added that even if your company does reimburse the employee, you can still claim tax relief from Revenue on any actual cost incurred that exceeds the €3.20 daily limit. 
Taxback.com says relief is available to home workers and e-workers who work from home on a full or a part-time basis. 
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