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Can I deduct travel expenses?

SOLVEDby TurboTax5278Updated November 30, 2023

If you’re self-employed or own a business, you can deduct work-related travel expenses, including vehicles, airfare, lodging, and meals. The expenses must be ordinary and necessary.

For vehicle expenses, you can choose between the standard mileage rate or the actual cost method where you track what you paid for gas and maintenance.

You can generally only claim 50% of the cost of your meals while on business-related travel away from your tax home, provided your trip requires an overnight stay. You can also deduct 50% of the cost of meals for entertaining clients (regardless of location), but due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), you can no longer deduct entertainment expenses in tax years 2018 through 2025. In 2021 and 2022, the law allows a deduction for 100% of your cost of food and beverages that are provided by a restaurant, instead of the usual 50% deduction.

On the other hand, employees can no longer deduct out-of-pocket travel costs in tax years 2018 through 2025 per the TCJA (this does not apply to Armed Forces reservists, qualified performing artists, fee-basis state or local government officials, and employees with impairment-related work expenses). Prior to the tax rule change, employees could claim 50% of the cost of unreimbursed meals while on business-related travel away from their tax home if the trip required an overnight stay, as well as other unreimbursed job-related travel costs. These expenses were handled as a 2% miscellaneous itemized deduction.

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