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A Guide to Meal and Lodging Expenses for Business
December 18, 2023 - 2 min read

Meal and Lodging Expenses - Get Your Expenses Reimbursed

Employers who travel outside of their tax home for business purposes and stay overnight can have their meal and lodging expenses reimbursed without being taxed on the reimbursement or deduct some of these expenses if they are not reimbursed.

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What are meal and lodging expenses?

Meal and lodging expenses are the reasonable expenses that an employee or self-employed person incurs for meals and lodging for business purposes. Lodging expenses are the expenses necessary for staying overnight for business purposes outside of the employee’s or self-employed individual’s tax home.

It is important to remember that an individual’s tax home is the area in which their primary place of employment is, not necessarily where their residence is located. We will provide you with information on what these expenses are and what the tax rules are for reimbursements or deductions of these expenses.

Find information about travel expenses reimbursement and mileage reimbursement and deductions rules if you travel frequently for work.

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The IRS Rules on meal and lodging expenses

The rules for lodging and meal expenses are different. Your employer can fully reimburse you for lodging expenses without you being taxed, or you can deduct these expenses if they are not reimbursed as long as the travel is outside of your tax home and your work necessitates staying overnight. Although, these expenses must be ordinary and necessary and cannot be extravagant. Also, the employee or business owner must be present for the meal.

You can deduct business meals, whether traveling or not, as long as they are ordinary and necessary and not lavish. However, unlike deductible employee meal expenses, meal reimbursements are generally taxable unless you are traveling outside of your tax home.

Deducting meal and lodging expenses

You can deduct both meal and lodging expenses if you are self-employed and traveling overnight outside of your tax home. Business meals within your tax home are also deductible if they are ordinary and necessary. If you are an employee, you can also deduct these expenses, but only if they are unreimbursed.

At what rates are they deductible?

Lodging

You can deduct 100% of your lodging expenses during your business travel as long as they are reasonable. Lodging expenses are fully deductible if you travel outside your tax home as long as you need to stay overnight and the expenses are reasonable.

Meals

Meals are generally deductible at a rate of 50%. But, instead of deducting the actual cost of your meals, you can choose to deduct the IRS per diem rate for meals. The IRS determines this rate, and it varies by area.

When deducting meal expenses, in some cases, you can use an exception to the 50% deduction rate for meals. For 2022 and 2023, business meals you purchased from a restaurant, whether eaten in the restaurant or taken out, are 100% deductible.

However, this 100% deduction applies to restaurants that prepare and sell food for immediate consumption on or off their premises. The IRS does not consider stores that primarily sell foods that are not for immediate consumption, such as grocery stores or convenience stores, to be restaurants.

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Reimbursement for meal and lodging expenses

Your employer can reimburse you for both meal and lodging expenses that occur during business travel if the expenses are ordinary and necessary. Additionally, you will generally not pay taxes on reimbursements for these expenses if they occur during business travel that requires an overnight stay. But, you will generally have to pay taxes on reimbursements for meal expenses you incurred as a part of business travel, not requiring an overnight stay.

FAQ

Incidental expenses are fees or tips given to baggage handlers, hotel staff, and porters. These are deductible when reasonable.
You can write off hotel stays for business travel outside of your tax home that requires an overnight stay.
You can deduct 100% of business meal expenses for meals that you purchased from a restaurant, whether for eating in the establishment or for take-out during the period from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022.

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