If your work requires you to live away from your home abroad and you visit your home regularly, you may be entitled to a deduction for extra expenses for board and lodging in Norway and travel expenses in connection with home visits abroad. These are called "commuting expenses". You can claim a commuter deduction when you meet the requirements to be considered a commuter.
If you are claiming the standard deduction for foreign employees, you cannot claim any further deductions.
If you do not meet the requirements to be considered a commuter , you may stil be entitled a Travel Deduction for travel between home and work (item 3.2.8).
Which deductions can you claim as a commuter?
If you have paid the expenses yourself and are not claiming the standard deduction for foreign employees, you can claim a deduction for:
• travel in connection with home visits. The rules concerning travel deductions vary depending on whether you are travelling to a home within or outside the EEA area; see below.
• what you have paid for accommodation (rent costs). You must be able to present receipts for the amounts
• extra subsistence expenses at standard rates that are stipulated annually by the Norwegian Tax Administration. For 2016, the rate is NOK 200 per day. If it is not possible to cook food where you live, the rate is NOK 307 per day
If your employer covered some of the costs, you can only claim a deduction for the costs you covered yourself. If, for example, you have free accommodation in Norway covered by your employer, you can claim a deduction for subsistence and for travel in connection with home visits as described above.
If your employer has covered commuting expenses, the benefit of this is tax-exempt provided that you would have been entitled
to deduct the expenses if you had paid them yourself. The same applies to any allowances received that do not exceed the rates for deductions. It is only any surplus on allowances that will be taxed as pay.
If your employer covered all your subsistence costs, either on the basis of receipts or by providing free board, and you receive this tax-free, you will be taxed for "savings on household costs". For 2016, the rate is NOK 87 per day. The savings on household costs have been taken into account in the deduction rates.
The deduction for travel between your home and place of work and deductions for home visits within the EEA area are calculated at a rate per kilometre. The number of kilometres is determined on the basis of the shortest travel distance by road and the distance by scheduled public transport except for air, between your housing in Norway and your home in your home country. You must be able to document/substantiate the number of journeys. The rate for 2016 is NOK 1.50 per km for up to 50,000 km per year. For the number of kilometres in excess of 50,000, the rate is NOK 0.70 per kilometre. You can also claim a deduction for the actual costs of road tolls and ferries for the part of the amount that exceeds NOK 3,300 for the entire year. For the ferry part of the journey, you can opt to claim a distance-based deduction instead of actual costs.
You are not entitled to a distance-based deduction for the part of the overall annual travel distance that exceeds 75,000 kilometres in total. If you claim a distance-based deduction at a rate per kilometre, you may not thereby obtain a higher annual deduction than NOK 92,500 ((50,000 km x NOK 1.50) + (25,000 km x NOK 0.70)) - 22,000 (basic allowance). The maximum actual distance-based deduction will therefore be NOK 70,500. You can claim actual costs for road tolls and ferries in addition.
If you claim your actual air fare expenses and the distance-based deduction for some of the travel instead, only the component of the travel for which you are claiming the distance-based deduction will be included in the limit of 75,000 kilometres.
If you travel to a home outside the EEA, the rules concerning the distance-based deduction will not apply. Instead, you may be entitled to a deduction for documented expenses if you use a means of transport other than private car. If you are able to document the use of a private car for your travel home, you can still claim a deduction for expenses according to the kilometre rates referred to above. The limit of 75,000 kilometres also applies in this case.
Commuters with families
If you have a joint home with children and/or a spouse who live in your home country, you are regarded as a commuter for tax purposes when your home is abroad. You must be able to present a marriage or birth certificate confirming the family relationship. In addition, you must be able to document a joint residential address in your home country. You are also normally required to have three to four home visits with overnight stays per year.
Single (unmarried) commuters
If you are not a family commuter, you are classified as a single commuter. Cohabitants are considered single in this context. However, if you also live with your own children, you are classified as a family commuter.
Which requirements apply for you to be regarded as a commuter
If you are single, other requirements apply for you to be regarded as a commuter for tax purposes. Single people are deemed to be resident where they have "independent housing". If you have independent housing in Norway, you will be regarded as resident in Norway and will not be entitled to a deduction for expenses relating to visits to your home country. The housing in Norway is regarded as independent when:
• it is at your disposal for at least twelve months and you have access to it every day of the week
• the living area is at least 30 square metres
• if there are several people living in the house/apartment, the area requirement increases by 20 square metres for each additional occupant over the age of 15
• it has running water and drains
You can claim a deduction for commuting expenses if you commute to your home abroad and the following requirements are met:
• you do not have independent housing in Norway
• you have independent housing in your home country, or are under 22 years of age at the end of the income year and commute to your parents’ home
• you go home once every three weeks. Less frequent home visits can be accepted if there are special reasons for this, for example in cases of illness or poor finances
• You must also document your residential address abroad
If you are under 22 years old at the end of the income year and commute to your parents’ home, you must be able to document the family relationship with a birth certificate.
In addition, you must be able to present documentation of a joint residential address abroad and be able to substantiate the number of journeys between your home abroad and your place of residence in Norway. It will normally be sufficient that you go home once every six weeks.
You may also be regarded as a commuter even if your housing in Norway is deemed to be independent. The requirements are that:
• you have been registered as resident in the same place (municipality) in your home country for three years
• you do not rent out your home in your home country
• the housing in Norway is not more than half the size of your home in your home country
If you commute between a home in your home country and housing in Norway, you may be entitled to a deduction.
Extra board expenses depend on your type of accommodation. The deduction is normally based on 240 days of absence from the home per year. Lodging expenses must be documented.
If you claim a deduction for extra expenses connected with commuting to your home abroad, you cannot claim a deduction for extra expenses in connection with commuting between homes in Norway.
If you commute between a home in your home country and housing in Norway, you may be entitled to a deduction. The deduction for home visits is dealt with together with the deduction for travel between the home and workplace. The deduction for home visits is limited to the amount in excess of NOK 22,000.
For travel to a home inside the EEA the deduction is granted pursuant to the same rules and rates as for travel to/from work, see item 3.2.8, but with one exception: if your home visits involved travel by air, you can claim a deduction for the air fare instead of for the distance travelled (NOK 1.50/NOK 0.70 per km). You can also claim the distance deduction for the rest of the journey. You must be able to document your expenses.
For travel to a home outside the EEA, the rules concerning the distance-based deduction do not generally apply. A deduction will be granted for documented expenses instead.
You must enclose a statement showing the number of kilometres/travels between your home and workplace in Norway.
Employer’s coverage of expenses for board, lodging and home visits when commuting from abroad
If you meet the requirements to be considered a commuter in relation to a home abroad and at the same time are entitled to claim the standard deduction, you must choose whether you wish to be taxed in accordance with the "net method" or the "gross method" when your employer has covered the commuting expenses. You are free to choose between them, regardless of which method your employer has used when paying the remuneration.
If it is more favourable for you to use the standard deduction for foreign employees than a deduction for the actual expenses, you can choose to be taxed on the benefit you derive from your employer covering the costs. You must in such case increase the income declared in your tax return by the amount of the benefit.
The gross method:
All allowances from the employer for the coverage of board, lodging and travel in connection with home visits are to be included in your gross taxable income. You can choose between a 10 per cent standard deduction and deduction for the actual costs, including extra expenses in item 3.2.7 and item 3.2.9.
The net method:
Allowances from the employer for the coverage of board, lodging and travel in connection with home visits are not to be included in taxable income, only the surplus, if any. You can claim a deduction for actual expenses that you have covered yourself.
If you choose the net method, you cannot claim the 10 per cent standard deduction.
If your home is abroad and you meet the requirements for being deemed to be a commuter and are entitled to the standard deduction, you can choose between the gross method and the net method. This means that you must choose to either claim the standard deduction and be taxed on all allowances from the employer for the coverage of board, lodging and travel in connection with home visits or not claim the standard deduction and instead apply the net method to allowances from the employer.
Commuting between other countries and the Norwegian continental shelf
If you are resident abroad, you can choose between the gross method and the net method.