Home office in Germany: five tips for smart savers


Updated on Jan 14 • 3 minute read

With the arrival of the Corona pandemic, the kitchen table has turned into a work desk for the home office in Germany and the coffee machine has become a social gathering spot with flatmates instead of corporate colleagues. In the wake of the Corona crisis, millions of people in Germany have been asked to work from home for some time.

And by now, we've all realised: computers do consume quite a bit of electricity and water consumption at home is also on the rise.

We've put five money-saving tips in the spotlight for expats working from their home offices in Germany!

1. Set up your office and claim it as a tax deduction

Let's face reality: Chances are you won't fill your guest room any time soon. So why don't you turn it into an office? Here's the good news: you can deduct it from your taxes. Given certain conditions, it's possible to claim the costs incurred for the office as income-related expenses in your tax return.

However, this implies one thing: this room in your own home is used almost exclusively for business purposes or only to a very minor extent for private purposes.

So, if your kitchen table has been used as a work desk or you've set up a table in your bedroom, you can't deduct the costs for the workplace. However, the situation is different if you use your guest room, which you used privately pre-corona, almost exclusively as an office.

Tip: Did you buy an office chair, monitor, desk or other office supplies that are not reimbursed? Then you can deduct them no matter whether your workplace is an office or an office in your bedroom. Did you know that you can also claim the share of the higher use of the home internet or telephone and mobile phone connection?

2. Home Office in Germany: Make use of the allowance

5 euros per day, a maximum of 600 euros per calendar year: this is the new home office allowance that the grand coalition has passed for home offices in Germany. In other words,

you'll get financial relief for 120 days in the home office.

This can take a load off your shoulders, even more so if you are on short-time work.

Good to know: This home office allowance applies to tax returns for the years 2020 and 2021.

However, there's a small catch: the home office allowance will be offset against the income-related expenses allowance of 1,000 euros. Which means for you exactly that it fizzles out for all employees if the income-related expenses (including home office) are below 1000 euros.

Since the home office allowance is capped at 600 euros, greater tax relief can be expected if your home office is approved as such.

3. Home office in Germany boost your cooking creativity

Never before had people baked so many banana bread and sourdoughs, right? Social networks were flodded with new receipes every day. One good thing about Corona: we finally took (or had to take) the time to get to grips with cooking! Instead of a canteen or the snack bar around the corner, there's now home-made food. You probably saved a lot of money on lunch costs during the home office in Germany! Have you tried German cuisine yet?

4. Less tempted by spontaneous purchases

Don't you ever dream of that crispy bread roll you picked up from the bakery on your way to work? Expats in Germany quickly discover that Germans are as devoted to their bread culture as Italians are to their pasta or Asians are to their rice. Morning, noon, night: your stomach is always ready for a fresh bread roll.

Now that you've lost your morning routine, the bread roll and the daily coffee from the bakery are no longer on top of your day; on the bright side, it saves you money. A cup of coffee to go usually costs between 1.50 and 3.50 euros. If you do the math, this adds up to 30 to 70 euros a month assuming you consume coffee on 20 working days. In comparison to coffee consumption at home, that's peanuts.

In the rush to cut costs, try to support your local restaurants, cafés and shops. 30 to 70 euros a month might not hurt you at all, so why not keep your daily routine and still get your bread roll from your favourite bakery? Going for a walk before work will boost your energy levels. Win-win!

5. Save time (and money)!

Benjamin Franklin said it, we all know it by now: 'Money is time'. Truth to be told, the home office in Germany saves you not only precious time by cutting out your commute to work, but it also saves you money.

With the corona pandemic, your car has never been driven so little, saving you quite some fuel and wear and tear. All in all, it can save you about 30 cents per kilometre. With 100 kilometres of travel per working day, that would be 30 euros a day or 600 euros a month assuming 20 working days.

For expats travelling by train, cutting out the commute to work also saves on daily ticket sales. If you have a monthly or annual subscription, you might even be a little lucky: some public transport companies are currently giving their customers the option to pause on certain ticket subscriptions.

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