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Is My Trip a Deductible Business Expense?

  1. To help you understand business travel, consider this:

You planned a personal trip to Los Angeles, arriving on Friday afternoon and leaving on Sunday afternoon.

About a week later, you learn that a vendor you need to meet with is going to be in L.A. when you are. You arrange a dinner on Friday night to finalize negotiations on a large contract.

Can you now deduct 100 percent of your flight expenses to Los Angeles? How about meals?

Trouble. You must have business as your primary purpose for the trip.

In general, a business trip can involve two types of business days:

  1. Travel day. You count as business those days you spend traveling in a reasonably direct route to your business destination. (Again, note this is your business not your personal destination.)
  2. Presence-required day. If someone requires your presence at a particular place for a specific and bona fide business purpose, this counts as a business day. That “someone” could be any business associate, employee, partner, client, customer, or vendor.

 This trip we created for you works like this:

  • Day 1, Friday, is a personal day. (You may deduct the cost of the business meal with the vendor whether you pay for it in total or go Dutch treat.)
  • Day 2, Saturday, is a personal day.
  • Day 3, Sunday, is a personal day.

But let’s say you had this situation: You travel on Friday to meet with the vendor on Saturday and return home on Sunday.

Now, you have a deductible trip.

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