Tax Planning & Guidance for Business Travel and Expenses

At the end of the year, when you are collecting information to begin preparation of your taxes, there are probably a few gaps. After all, life moves at a frenetic pace, and we do not always collect the right information. But if you know what is deductible in terms of business travel and expenses, it is easier to collect that information.

Travel Expenses

Travel deductions is a broad subject, and when you know what you can, and cannot, deduct, it is easier to save the right information. The most obvious starting point is the vehicle you use for business – whether this is a car for visiting prospective employees or a fleet of trucks used to haul materials – mileage accrued for business is deductible. Track mileage and keep exact records!

Traveling for business qualifies, but you must be away from the general area of your tax home and you must need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home. When you take transportation by airplane, train, bus, or car from home to business destination, the expense is deductible.

Other travel expenses include:

  •        Fares paid for taxi, commuter bus, and airport limousines
  •        Baggage or shipping costs
  •        Lodging and meals
  •        Cleaning including dry cleaning and laundry
  •        Telephone or communication via fax
  •        Tips on any expenses
  •        Meals – as long as they are business related or necessary for performing    your job while on the road.

Business Expenses

The holidays are approaching, and business gifts may be deducted. The current limit established by the IRS is $25 per person you present with a gift. Items that are $4 or less are not eligible for deduction.

Now that you have a clear idea of what you can deduct when it comes to travel and expenses, it is worth discussing how to best keep your records. There are a variety of software programs that help track expenses. In some cases, you can have the software customized to fit your particular industry.

Of course, you need to save the receipts from these expenses. While a hard copy is always a great idea, scanning these receipts ensures you always a have an electronic backup. Many of today’s desktop printers, and larger copiers, have the ability to scan receipts so they can be stored.

It is crucial to remember that just collecting the receipts is only part of the process. The information must be correctly, and accurately, input into whatever software program you are using to track these expenses.

Business travel and associated expenses represent a viable deduction from the annual taxes you pay. Knowing what you can, and cannot, claim is key in making sure you take advantage of the tax code. In addition, keeping accurate records and saving receipts and other proof of payment may help in the event of an audit or questions about what you have reported.

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