The summer travel season is almost upon us. While you look forward to lazing on the beach, visiting the theme parks, and enjoying ice cream cones, also consider ways to fit some business in to your trips.
The idea is to take advantage of tax deductions for which you become eligible when you devote part of your trip to business. As long as most of your travel days are for business purposes, you can deduct the cost of travel (airplanes, trains, cars, etc.) and for hotels, parking, taxi service, meals, and so on.
As defined by the IRS, travel expenses are the Ordinary and Necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job. An Ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your field of trade, business, or profession. A Necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary.
The key factor is that your trip must be primarily for business. Days of leisure can be added to a trip and still be considered primarily for business. The more days and time per day spent on business will help substantiate the trip. There are no set rules on how many days and how much time per day need to be spent on business for your trip to be considered business related.
Keep all the documentation for business-related travel, including confirmations of appointments, emails, phone records, registration to conferences, etc. The days spent traveling to and from a business trip are considered part of the trip. This includes the weekend if it is impractical to come home between weekday business meetings. Planning ahead can make this happen.
Traveling with Your Spouse
If a spouse goes with you on a business trip or to a business convention, his or her travel expenses can only be deducted if your spouse
- is your employee,
- has a bona fide business purpose for the travel, and
- would otherwise be allowed to deduct the travel expenses.
To be an employee, your spouse must be on the payroll and payroll taxes must be paid. If your spouse is not an employee and travels with you on vacation, you can still deduct the cost of your room at the single-occupancy-per-day rate, rather than half the rate. Meals could also be deductible. If you are paying for lunch or dinner for a customer or business associate and that person’s spouse, the full cost of the meals might qualify under the 50% meal deduction. Let us know if you’re unclear on this deduction; we can give you the details.
What Expenses Are Deductible?
Here’s what you can deduct when you travel away from home for business.
You can deduct Transportation Expenses when you travel by airplane, train, bus, or car between your home and your business destination. If you were provided with a ticket or you are riding free as a result of a frequent traveler or similar program, your cost is zero. If you travel by ship, additional rules and limits apply.
Taxi, Commuter Bus, Subway, and Airport Limousine Fares
You can deduct the fares for these and other types of transportation that take you between
- the airport or station and your hotel, and
- the hotel and the work location of your customers or clients, your business meeting place, or your temporary work location.
Baggage and Shipping Expenses
You can deduct the cost of sending baggage and sample or display material between your regular and temporary work locations.
You can deduct the cost of operating and maintaining your car when traveling away from home on business. You can deduct actual expenses or the standard mileage rate, as well as business-related tolls and parking. If you rent a car while away from home on business, you can deduct only the business-use portion of the expenses.
Lodging and Meals
You can deduct your lodging and meals if your business trip is overnight or long enough that you need to stop for sleep or rest to properly perform your duties. Meals include amounts spent for food, beverages, taxes, and related tips. Additional rules and limits may apply.
You can deduct the dry cleaning and laundry expenses you incur while away on business.
All business calls while on your business trip are deductible. This includes business communication by fax machine or other communication devices.
You may deduct the tips you pay for any expense listed above.
You can deduct other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to your business travel. These expenses might include transportation to or from a business meal, public stenographer’s fees, computer rental fees, or Internet access fees.
If you have any questions about how to grab some tax deductions from your summer travels this year, just give us a call or send us an email.
RC Holsinger Associates, P.C. – June 2011 Newsletter