If you are seeing clients virtually from home, you may be eligible for tax deductions, provided that you meet the requirements. In a recent guest post on the TPI blog, tax accountant Diane Libby, CPA summarizes the basics of how to qualify and how to calculate your tax deduction.
When working remotely with clients from your home, you will be keeping records on paper and/or electronically. Just as you would do at your office, keep your records locked up. If using paper files, lock them in a file cabinet. If you're storing records electronically, follow HIPAA privacy and security regulations.
Keep in mind that any notes you write during a session, whether on paper or electronically, should be put away and securely stored. The same goes for client-related correspondence. Don't leave them open to being read by others, either intentionally or unintentionally (for example, your spouse or roommate notices your notes while looking for the stapler on your desk).
Also, shred any notes and other client-identifying documents before you throw them in the trash.
If you live alone, you may be tempted to leave client paperwork lying around, since there is no one else to see it. However, it's prudent to get into the habit of securing your records at various times during the day, so that you won't have to remember to put them away when you have visitors or repair workers in your home. They will also be secure in the event that you suddenly become incapacitated.
Check with your malpractice insurer to see if you need to revise any information on your insurance policy after moving your office to your home.
Also, check whether your homeowner's or home rental insurance policy covers loss or damage to you home office, business equipment and records. If it doesn't you should buy additional coverage, including cyber security insurance, which reimburses your expenses in responding to a data breach, such notifying all clients (as required under HIPAA) and paying fines.
If you're working exclusively from home, you need to decide whether or not to use your home address as your business address.
Having a separate office address does not guarantee that your home address is kept secret. Your name and home address are likely stored in public records that can be found via a Google search.
The search results usually show your information on public record aggregator sites, such as Intelius and PeopleFinders. You may be able to remove your data from these aggregator sites, but not from the original government record sources themselves. Sooner or later a new aggregator site will pick up your personal data.
While it's next to impossible to prevent a determined person from finding your home address, you may still want to maintain a separate business address for other reasons, including possible zoning restrictions.. Here are a few options for a business address:
- Some clinicians have made arrangements with their former office landlords or practice owners to continue to receive mail at the office address.
- Companies such as Regus, that have office space for rent by the hour and for longer periods of time, may also offer mailing address and receptionist services separately.
- A post office box is inexpensive, but some third-party payers require a street address on file, even if they send payments electronically.
- UPS offers mailboxes that are designated by a street address. You can get text notifications when something is delivered, so that you don't need to make wasted trips to check your mailbox.
Getting paid by clients
Many clinicians have been reluctant to accept credit card payments or other electronic payments (e.g., Paypal) from clients because they want to avoid the merchant fee of about 3%.
However, when working remotely, the merchant fee is worth the convenience. You don't have to wait for the client to send a check, and the client does not have to go the extra step to write out a check, which they may forget to do.
Time management & self-care
Working from home means that you are just a few steps away from your office. On the one hand, that makes it easy to keep up with household chores, such as laundry. But on the other hand, it can distract you from your professional work. There are additional complications if you have young children at home, or an adult who requires special care.
If you are planning to work from home for the coming weeks or months, we recommend that you establish regular office hours, during which you attend to your business. If needed, make arrangements for child care, etc., so that you can focus on your work.
Your work-from-home schedule can be somewhat flexible to allow time for family activities and chores during the day. However, it's best to write these other activities on your calendar. That way, your expectations will be clear, and you will be less apt to feel guilty about neglecting home activities while working, and vice versa.