Monday, September 30, 2013


The IRS has released the special per diem rates, effective October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, which taxpayers can use to claim a deduction for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses when traveling away from home for business.

Click here to download IRS Notice 2013-65.  Or click here for the General Services Administration website.

These per diems can be used by employers to reimburse employees for business travel, and the per diems for meals and incidental expenses can be used by unreimbursed employees and the self-employed to claim a tax deduction for business travel.

Under IRS Rev Proc 2007-63, self-employed taxpayers filing a Schedule C and employees who are not covered by an employer reimbursement plan cannot use the per diem method that includes lodging. To claim a deduction for lodging expenses these taxpayers must substantiate the actual cost.  And corporations cannot use the per diem that includes lodging for owner-employees with more than 10% ownership, based on direct or indirect ownership.  

Similar to how the Standard Mileage Allowance works for business use of your automobile, you can elect to deduct either the actual amount of your out of pocket expenses for meals and “incidental” expenses while away from home on business, or claim the appropriate federal per diem allowance determined by the location of the trip.  If you claim the per diem allowance you do not have to save receipts for actual expenses.

You can decide whether to deduct the GSA meals and incidental per diem rate or actual expenses on a trip by trip basis, but you must use the same method for all days within any single business trip. You can use the actual expenses when attending a conference in New York City in May and the per diem rate for an August convention in Las Vegas.

The per diem rate for meals and incidental expenses includes tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids (the “incidental” expenses) – so the actual out of pocket for these incidentals are not deductible if you claim the per diem.

On the first and last day of a business trip you claim 75% of the per diem amount, unless you can show you leave before breakfast on the first day and return after dinner on the last.


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