Business travel is back.
COVID restrictions have eased, and in-person conferences are back on the calendar. And as more people return to offices, companies are warming to sending their employees on work trips.
For many businesses, it’s been a minute since they’ve had to account for employee travel expenses. So it might be time for a refresher on which expenses are tax-deductible, which aren’t, and what pandemic-related tax incentives are available.
When is it business travel?
A trip is considered business travel when you travel outside what’s known as your “tax home.” The location of your tax home is the city or area of your primary place of business, regardless of where you live. For expenses to count as deductible travel costs, they have to be incurred away from your tax home for longer than a typical workday — but no longer than one year. Anything considered an “ordinary and necessary expense” of doing business would qualify.
As long as the expenses are business-related, most, if not all, expenses from a typical work trip can receive a tax deduction. So what is deductible?
Business Meals, Beverages
Perhaps the most significant change for business travel is a temporary tax incentive to encourage restaurant spending during the pandemic. Through the end of 2022, food and beverages from restaurants are 100% tax-deductible versus the usual 50% deduction for businesses. The 100% deduction applies to any restaurant meals and drinks purchased after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023.
The IRS defines a restaurant as “a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises.” The deduction includes:
- Restaurant takeout and delivery meals
- Tax and tips
- Hotel room service
Travel and Transportation
You can deduct 100% of the cost of any travel by airplane, train, bus, or car between your home and business destination. That includes car rental expenses. Also deductible is parking fees, tolls, and fares for taxis, shuttles, ferry rides, and other modes of transportation.
Hotels and Lodging
Hotel stays are tax-deductible, as are tips and fees for hotel staff and baggage carriers. Depending on how you schedule your trip, you may even be able to deduct lodging costs for non-workdays.
What Isn’t Deductible?
- Entertainment (Although entertainment used to be a deductible business expense, the IRS changed that rule for most entertainment costs in 2018.)
- Expenses that are “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances”
- Fines and penalties
- Personal expenses
- Friends and family
To make the most of your tax deductions, collect receipts and keep detailed records of all travel expenses.
Managing business travel expenses and calculating deductions requires attention to detail, and businesses may be out of practice after two years with little to no travel. If you need help figuring out business travel deductions, our team of professionals can assist your business in getting back on track — and ready for takeoff.
Treasury Circular 230 Disclosure
Unless expressly stated otherwise, any federal tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used or relied upon, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or for promoting, marketing, or recommending any transaction or matter addressed herein.