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With the upcoming tax season of 2011, many workers who work from home, either for an employer or who are self-employed, will start to look for things from their home office that they are tax deductible. The good news is that there are many business and office items that the IRS counts as being deductible for an individual who happens to work from home for whatever reason.
In previous years, the IRS did not consider telecommuting to be something that could be deducted as part of a person's taxes. Since 2006, there have been nearly 28 million people who are either working from home on request from their employer or are running a self-employed business.
Choosing which items can be deducted during tax season is always a bit problematic, especially for those who happen work from home or from a remote location that is a part from the general office environment.
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Can I Write Off a New Laptop for Telecommuting?
In the cases where the laptop is the main computer, that is the laptop is the only computer within the house, the answer to the above is still yes, however if you use it for personal reasons as well (such as checking social networking sites, personal emails, etc), you will need to be able to show the hours that you use it for business.
For example - if you go down to your local coffee shop with the purpose of working, yet you spent the time making tweets to celebrities or you were playing a game on Facebook, you can not use a deduction for your laptop. However, if for a period of time - say from 8am until 2pm - you were doing business on your laptop, that can be used as a deduction, as you were using the laptop for your business needs.
How does someone go about proving that a computer is being used for business use? The best way is to use time management software that keeps track of the amount of time that you dedicate to doing your business. There are several different products that help home office workers on tasks, allowing for them to chose what their needs are; some software, like Self-Control (for Macs)/Freedom (for PCs) can block websites that can cause easy distractions, like Twitter or Facebook, while others like Easy Time Tracking allow for a print out of the reports that show what work has been done.
So, can I write off a new laptop for telecommuting? The answer to this is both a yes and a no; in summary, the simple answer is you can write off a laptop for telecommuting as long as you are using for your business purposes - this can be easily done if the laptop is a secondary computer within your home. With the laptop as a second computer, a person is able to do their personal work on the home's desktop (or main laptop), while the laptop would be used for business purposes.
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Resources & Image Credits
Image content courtesy of Dell
Image - http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2008/02/tax-break-for-telecommuters.html