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  1. Hi! I am filing my tax return for 2020. I bought a laptop in May 2020 that I needed as a replacement for my existing half-dead laptop, because I work in computation (PhD student in a computational field) and home office is mandatory as per university rules. I am not sure whether or not I can receive a tax return. My German language skills are not so great. I understand that ideally I should be going for a tax advisor but perhaps the TT community can help me out? Here are the details:   - I have an employer provided, desktop computer, in my office in the university. I used it for work before the pandemic (and still do via remote connection). Question 1: Is it possible to claim a tax return for the laptop given that I have a computer provided by my employer?   - The laptop is a requirement. No laptop, no work. If asked for, I believe I can get my supervisor to write a letter stating that the laptop is a requirement. Question 2: Would such a letter be sufficient? Question 3. If I do go ahead with this I will talk to my supervisor first, but do I need to attach the letter in ELSTER, or I need to do it only when requested by the Finanzamt?   - New laptop cost me approx 1400 EUR, bought in Germany. This post suggests that I can claim tax return on it but I have to spread it over the expected lifetime of the laptop. Question 4. Assuming that I can claim the return, how do I go about spreading the expenses over a number of years, in ELSTER? Also, how does one decide how long is the expected lifetime? I see the number 3 or 4 years depending on which website I am reading, but it's a bit confusing.   - Question 5. Is there an upper limit on any of the deductions? How much? Does it matter that I will also be claiming the flat tax relief for the home office situation?   - Any helpful resources (even if in German) related to this, are appreciated. I could search for them myself but it's a pain to do it without knowing enough German and what exactly to look for.
  2. I know no one can tell the future as this is unprecedented for everyone, but I want to make sure to keep my finger on the pulse of this.   I believe most recent regulations on claiming a home office off your taxes require it to be an entirely separate room with no bed, etc.   Is there a chance COVID-19 might affect this? With so many more people working from home due to COVID-19, it means higher expenses for heating, need to get faster internet at home - and generally more home expenses. I have not heard of many employers making up this difference.   It's not like we had time to plan either. Previously when I was a freelancer it was a more conscious decision - if I wanted to purposely adjust my flat to make an Arbeitszimmer I could do it. With COVID-19 not so much - it kind of just happened, and my "office" is now a corner in my living room. I'm sure many are in a similar situation.   Is there any talk or discussion anywhere about how this might affect taxes this year? Since my commute is now from my bedroom to my living room I guess I won't be writing that off - is there any chance of more flexibility around writing off expenses for salaried and/or freelance workers during this strange COVID-19 reality we live in?