Thursday, October 4, 2007

Shared Rent: You may still deduct for home office

Hello June,
Thanks for your thorough and detailed site. It's great to know there are experts like you who are on the side of us freelancers. We are in sore need of information. It's a hard job to have, plenty of rewards and plenty of challenges.

My question ... I'm a self-employed actress, playwright and theater-based educator. I've taken a home office deduction for the past 3 years, but this year, I'm not sure what is appropriate for me to deduct. In fact I'm wondering if it was alright for me to make those past years home office deductions in the first place.

I share a house with 5 other urban, single professionals. I have my own large bedroom in which a section is devoted to my home office where I have a desk, computer, printer and files. Can I deduct a home office expense? That small section of the room is exclusively used for business purposes. However it's not a separate room or even partitioned off. And I share the rest of the house with other people. So if I could claim a deduction -- then how much could I claim? The rent I pay is for the room and shared use of kitchen, living room, etc. Apart from your response, the option I have for next year is to just move my office section to the basement. A student I live with would use one section for her office, and I could use another section. No one else uses that half of the basement. On the other side of the basement is the washer and dryer and a rehearsal space for a music band of former housemates. Would this be a more appropriate deduction?

Thank you for your time, Anu from DC

Hello Anu,

You are welcome. As you can tell from the lag time between your question and my answer, the freelancers seeking questions are many.

Yes, you have a legitimate home office expense. Here's a hypothetical of how you would calculate your deduction. Follow the arithmetic carefully.

Four of you share an apartment.
Rent is $2000, you each pay $500. [2000/4]
Apartment is 1,600 square feet.
You each have your own room and share the rest of the apartment.
You each pay $500 per month for 400 square feet. [1600/4]
You use a 20 square foot area [5 ft X 4 ft] of your room exclusively for business.
20 divided by 400 = 5%. You use 5% of your share of the apartment for business.
So you may deduct 5% of your share of the rent, or $25 per month.

Hope that's clear. Please let me know.


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