Survey claims to reveal the cost of working from home
We have tended to not cover many of the 'survey says' releases but the latest from MoneySuperMarket is worth sharing because we believe there are aspects they have missed and potential pitfalls if people do start claiming for their broadband costs for the hours they work from home.
Looking at weekly home internet usage, the average Brit spends 13 hours and 45 minutes online for personal use, and eight hours and 35 minutes using home broadband for work purposes. That means that more than a third (38%) of their home internet usage is being attributed to doing their jobs.
In fact, with the average monthly broadband bill costing £31.08, MoneySuperMarket estimates a total of £11.94 of employees’ money is spent on simply doing their work.MoneySuperMarket Survey on Home Working
The results are based on two different surveys the first of 2010 working adults gave a figure that the average person is spending 11 hours and 45 minutes working from home a week and a second survey of 2001 working adults showed a figure of 8 hours and 35 minutes each week using broadband for work purposes. It is not very clear why the difference in the two sets of figures beyond sample size variations or maybe the questions were asked in a different context but it is confusing to have multiple figures for what seems to be the same thing.
Unfortunately presenting the statistics in the form of an average without an indication of the spread is very misleading, e.g. if we were to survey 100 people and 50 were to work from home full time and 50 were to go to the workplace all the time we would have an average of 18 hours 45 minutes for working from home (assuming a 37.5 hour working week).
Claiming for your broadband usage at home as a business expense is something you can do and the survey omits any guidance in this area, but be aware that the benefit in kind rules will kick in if a company pays your entire personal broadband and phone bill. Also there are questions around what amount you can claim, e.g. is it the broadband only component, since for phone calls you can only claim the cost of the calls rather than including a proportion of the line rental.
Our understanding of the rules on claiming broadband means that if you start to work from home you will need to split the business and personal elements, i.e. you cannot claim the full cost for an existing broadband connection.
For those working from home a significant amount it is likely to be better for the company to install a broadband line in addition to your personal service and the costs of this to be paid for by the company. Dropping your personal broadband line and letting the family use the business line all the time would fall foul of tax rules, some personal use is allowed, e.g. home broadband was broken for two days so everyone used it. There are also good reasons for having two broadband lines if you work from home a lot since during the school holidays what the kids are doing on a separate connection will not impact on your working and the embarrassing chat with your boss about a copyright infringement letter the company received due the activity of someone in the home .
The biggest omission from the survey though is the cost savings people make from working from home, since you save the commuting time, travel costs, that cheeky cup of coffee on the way into the office and lunch. The savings from these elements we believe vastly outweigh the cost of broadband each month.
Best advice if you are looking to claim your broadband as an expense talk to your manager, accountant or accounts department before doing so to make sure that you stay within the rules.