I’ve been working at home during the pandemic — do I qualify for home office tax deductions?

Say you’ve had to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Join the club. Like many others who are lucky enough to be able to do their jobs from home, you might now be wondering if you can claim a federal income tax deduction for home office expenses. As things currently stand, the answer is no unless you’re self-employed.

But the answer could change if Congress grants additional COVID-19-related tax relief. Here’s what you need to know about home office write-offs as things stand right now.

No home office deductions for employees
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), an employee could potentially claim itemized deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses —including home office expenses —if you used a home office for the convenience of your employer. In that case, you could lump the home office expenses together with other miscellaneous expenses — such as fees for investment advice, tax advice, tax preparation, and union dues.

If your total miscellaneous expenses exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), you could write off the excess — as long as you itemized deductions.

Unfortunately, that was then and this is now.

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33 million Californians face COVID-19 stay-at-home order that will restrict movements and business

A new stay-at-home order will be imposed on Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley Sunday night, as the coronavirus crisis spirals out of control with a speed that has exceeded health officials’ most dire projections.

Some 33 million Californians will be subject to the new order, representing 84% of the state’s population. The state mandated the restrictions in the Southland and Central Valley as capacity at hospitals’ intensive care units hit dangerously low levels. Five Bay Area counties will also begin lockdown restrictions in the coming days despite not yet reaching the threshold at which such action is mandated by the state.

The rules are less sweeping than California’s pioneering stay-at-home order in the spring, which is credited with slowing the first COVID-19 wave. But the new order will change daily life for many, especially in suburban Southern California counties like Orange and Ventura, which so far have enjoyed more open economies than hard-hit Los Angeles County.

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will implement the order Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Restaurants must halt in-person dining and can offer food only for delivery and takeout. Gatherings of people from different households will be prohibited, except for outdoor church services and political demonstrations. Affected communities will be required to close hair and nail salons, playgrounds, zoos, museums, card rooms, aquariums and wineries. Nonessential travel and use of hotels for leisure will be banned, as will overnight, short-term stays at campgrounds. All retail can remain open, but at 20% capacity.

Continue reading “33 million Californians face COVID-19 stay-at-home order that will restrict movements and business”

Disney fires back at Elizabeth Warren’s letter blasting the company’s 28,000 layoffs

Walt Disney Co. is fighting back after Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote a scathing open letter this week that slammed the company for reinstating pay for senior executives who had taken salary cuts during the coronavirus pandemic and other financial decisions benefiting shareholders before the company revealed massive layoffs.

The company said in a statement, “Senator Warren’s misinformed letter contains a number of inaccuracies.”

Warren, D-Mass., wrote to Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Bob Iger, the former CEO turned Disney executive chairman, critical of the company’s compensation to executives and how it has treated workers.

“In the years leading up to this crisis, your company prioritized the enrichment of executives and stockholders through hefty compensation packages, and billions of dollars’ worth of dividend payments and stock buybacks, all of which weakened Disney’s financial cushion and ability to retain and pay its front-line workers amid the pandemic,” Warren wrote.

Warren also expressed concerns about the company terminating Florida workers and blaming the layoffs in California on “public health measures, which were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.” Disneyland remains closed without an opening date. Disney World theme parks reopened in mid-July.

Disney’s statement responded with, “We’ve unequivocally demonstrated our ability to operate responsibly with strict health and safety protocols in place at all of our theme parks worldwide, with the exception of Disneyland Resort in California, where the State has prevented us from reopening, even though we have reached agreements with unions representing the majority of our Cast Members that would get them back to work.”

Walt Disney Co. announced last month it was laying off 28,000 people across its theme park division.

The company later disclosed details about how it would affect Orlando, revealing nearly 6,700 non-union Disney World employees are losing their jobs in December.

In addition, about 8,860 hourly part-time union employees who had been furloughed will be laid off, according to the company’s largest union coalition, which said those workers can get recalled when the company eventually needs them again.

The layoffs in Florida amount to about 20% of the company’s pre-coronavirus workforce of about 77,000.

Legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden tests positive for COVID-19

Former Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden has tested positive for the coronavirus.

ABC 27 spoke to Bowden on Monday, who confirmed the news.

Despite the positive diagnosis, Bowden, 90, said he’s doing pretty good and is waiting to see what’s going to happen.

While he did not say if any of his other household members have also tested positive, Bowden told ABC 27 they are all going to get tested again Monday.

Bowden said he does not know when he contracted it and did not mention when exactly he tested positive.

During his 34 years as Florida State’s head coach he had only one losing season in 1976. From 1987 to 2000, the Seminoles finished every season with at least 10 wins and in the top 5 of the Associated Press College Football Poll, and won the national championship in 1993 and 1999.

What’s More Risky, Going to a Bar or Opening the Mail?

By now you probably have a good idea of which activities pose a greater risk catching COVID-19, so this might have been easy.

Supermarket and retail.

The Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases have created a chart that ranks activities on their risk level for COVID-19. The levels are based on input from the physician members of the task force and the committee, who worked from the assumption that – no matter the activity – participants were taking as many safety precautions as they can.

And remember that no matter what we do, it’s best if we stay home if possible, wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of distance when we have to go out, and above all practice safe hand hygiene.

Remember the board game Risk, where the goal was basically to take over the world?

Well, let’s play Risk COVID-19, in which you try to guess which activities put people more at risk for contracting the coronavirus that causes the disease.

  1. Spending an hour at a playground or grocery shopping?
  2. Going to a beach or going camping?
  3. Working a week in an office building or staying two nights in a hotel?
  4. Going to a hair salon/barbershop or visiting a library/museum?
  5. Going to a bar or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room?

Download the chart in pdf form here: