Re: Are meals deductible business expense
Level 15

Investors & landlords

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I think the answer is no.  Google must just be paying it and not deducting it.  


There are two issues.  First, anything of value that you provide to employees is part of their taxable income unless it an allowable non-taxable fringe benefits.  Meals provided at the employer's facility and for the employer's convenience are not part of the employee's taxable wages. 


Second, can the employer deduct the expense?  At most, the employer can deduct 50% of the expense.  But rule 4 on page 6 of notice 2018-76 says that meals must be provided to clients and business prospects (with the employer or a representative present).  Even though this was updated by the 2018 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, it fits with my previous understanding that meals are only deductible (50% deductible) when they are used to generate income -- meet with clients, prospects, customers, and so on, to get or keep their business.  Entertainment used to be 80% deductible but again, only when meeting with new or existing customers or clients to get or keep their business.  Parties for employees were not deductible before or after the TCJA.


So I think if you want to provide meals for employees outside the context of getting or retaining business, its not deductible to you, although it is not taxable to the employees.  

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
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