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Reimbursement of expenses for home and teleworking: new rules

28 February 2021 Ellen Lammens Employers

Working from home has already had a major impact during the corona pandemic. Working from home became an obligation, and the existing rules on home and teleworking were insufficient to cover this new situation. On 26 January 2021, the National Labour Council took a first step in the right direction and concluded a new collective labour agreement that regulates corona teleworking. On 26 February 2021, the tax authorities subsequently published a new circular.

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What does the new circular have to say on working from home?

The document indicates which costs employers can pay to their teleworkers. It involves the coordination – and adaptation – of all existing tax rules. The previous circular(s) were therefore abolished or integrated. Positive news is that the tax authorities and the NSSO are on the same wavelength, and will apply the same rules. Please note: the tax authorities (or the NSSO) do not state that it is mandatory to pay these expense allowances.

Who can receive an expense allowance for teleworking?

It concerns all employees who regularly and structurally work from home. And that is immediately explained quite concretely: these are employees who work an average of (+/-) 8 hours a week (one working day) at home. An employee who works from home for 2 hours a day can already be a teleworker in that sense. But it should concern employees who work from home functionally, not those who occasionally work on their computer in the evening.

Which costs may be reimbursed?

1. General office expenses

The employer can cover general office expenses with a flat-rate expense allowance. This concerns small office supplies, utilities, printing paper, drinks, maintenance, insurance, rent if necessary, ...

This flat-rate expense allowance may not exceed €129.48 per month, or exceptionally €144.31 per month in the months of April, May and June 2021. From July that will be back to €129,48.

2. Work equipment

The employer can issue the home worker with a computer, laptop and peripherals, or he can reimburse these separately if the employee purchases it personally. This can then be reimbursed at the actual cost price, or also on a flat-rate basis.

The circular determines those rates:

  • €20 per month for employees who use their own computer and peripherals;
  • €20 per month for employees who use their own internet subscription;
  • €5 per month for employees who have received a computer or laptop from their employer, but uses a second computer screen at home that is their property,
  • €5 per month for employees who have received a computer or laptop from their employer, but uses their own scanner and/or printer for their work at home.

These allowances can be combined with the flat-rate expense allowance for general office costs. However, you cannot combine the above flat rate of €20 euros for their own computer with that of €5.

3. Office furniture

The employer can also reimburse employees' office furniture separately. There are no flat-rate expense estimates for this. The employer must therefore reimburse these at fair value, and have the necessary supporting documents too. In addition, he must come to proper agreements with the home worker about those fees, because this should rather be linked to the normal useful life of the furniture (depreciation period).

The employer may also lend that material and furniture to the employee. The employer will then retain ownership. That is another way of reimbursing the employee for the costs of working from home. And there are different rules for that, with other circulars....


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Written by Ellen Lammens

Juridisch adviseur bij Acerta

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