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Business Meal Deductibility in the USA

deductions meals travel Nov 01, 2023

Navigating the Maze of Meal Deductibility in the USA


In the complex world of tax deductions, meal expenses in the United States can be a particularly intricate subject. The rules governing the deductibility of meals vary depending on the purpose, context, and amount spent. Understanding these nuances can help taxpayers make informed financial decisions and potentially reduce their tax liability. In this blog post, we'll explore the different deductibility of meals in the USA.

1. Business Meals Deduction

One of the most common deductions related to meals is for business purposes which are qualifying meal expenses incurred while conducting business. During the pandemic, they were eligible for a 100% deduction but now business meals that meet this criteria, like discussing business-related matters, are still back down to a 50% deduction.

2. Entertainment Expenses

Back in the day, entertainment used to be deductible. Not anymore! It’s very important to separate meal costs from entertainment expenses in your records. What’s entertainment?

  • Nail salon & spa treatments
  • Golf
  • Concert or sports tickets

Remember, you can deduct the meal portion of the entertainment, 50%. so keep good records here!

3. Employee Meals

Employers can provide meals to employees under certain circumstances and receive favorable tax treatment. For instance, meals provided on the employer's premises for the convenience of the employer can be fully deductible.

4. Travel Expenses

When you're away from home on business, you can deduct your meal expenses 50%. This includes meals incurred during travel that are necessary for business activities, such as client meetings or conferences. Or, instead of keeping records of your meal expenses and deducting the actual cost, you can generally use a standard meal allowance, which varies depending on where you travel. Click here for the per diem rates search >

For example: here’s the per diem rates for Phoenix, AZ:

If you have employees that will be traveling on behalf of the company, you can offer them per diem reimbursements on their payroll and forgo having to ask for them to keep track of receipts.

5. Charitable Deductions

While not directly related to business, it's important to mention that donations to qualified charitable organizations can sometimes include the cost of meals, subject to specific rules.

6. Limitations and Documentation

Keep in mind that documentation is crucial for all meal-related deductions. To claim any deduction, you'll need to maintain accurate records, including receipts, dates, and details of the business purpose.

Meal deductibility rules may evolve over time. It's essential to stay updated on current tax laws and consult with a tax professional to ensure you're maximizing your deductions while staying compliant with the latest regulations. A great place to start is always IRS publications. Click here for the most current revision.

Whether you're a business owner, employee, or self-employed individual, understanding the deductibility of meals can lead to significant tax savings and better financial planning.

🔥Hot Tip:

Use AMEX Gold for Business for travel (and other business expenses) to get lots of points and free flights! 


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