Tax Deductions: IRS Highlights Options for Business Travelers

jacoblund / iStock.com
jacoblund / iStock.com

There are more business travel tax deductions available to workers than you might realize. As a general rule, most costs associated with business travel — such as transportation, lodging and meals — are tax deductible when you travel away from home or work. However, this doesn’t mean you can write off everything whenever you hop on a plane.

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A business trip is when an employee travels away from their tax home or main place of work for business purposes, according to the IRS. Traveling away from home is when you are away longer than an ordinary day’s work and you need to sleep to meet the demands of work while you are away. You can also deduct travel expenses paid during a temporary work assignment if it doesn’t exceed one year.

Travel expenses must be considered ordinary and necessary for business. The IRS stated that these costs cannot be “lavish, extravagant or for personal purposes.”

Deductible travel expenses include:

  • Travel expenses for conventions if the convention benefits the business

  • Travel by plane, train, bus or car between home and work

  • Shipping of baggage or sample and display material between work locations

  • Using a personal car for business

  • Lodging and meals

  • Dry cleaning and laundry

  • Business calls and communication

  • Tips paid for services related to business travel expenses

  • Other “ordinary and necessary” business travel expenses

Business travel deductions are also available for the National Guard, military reserve servicemembers and self-employed individuals or farmers.

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To help you stay organized, the IRS suggested keeping records such as receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support deductions. On your next business trip, also consider calculating mileage costs if you’re driving a car. This can be done by expensing everything individually, like gas purchases, oil changes and repairs or as a flat fee per mile.

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