Tax Planning

Creating More Business Meal Tax Deductions After the TCJA

Aug 1, 2021

Bradford Tax Institute

Here’s good news for business meals: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) removed the “directly related and associated with” requirements from business meals.

The net effect of this change is to subject business meals once again to the pre-1963 “ordinary and necessary” business expense rules.

You are going to like these rules.

Restaurants and Bars

Question 1. If, for business reasons, you take a customer to breakfast, lunch, or dinner at a restaurant or hotel, or to a bar for a few drinks, but you do not discuss business, can you deduct the costs of the meals and drinks?

Answer 1. Yes. Even though you did not discuss business, the law provides that if the circumstances are of a type generally considered conducive to a business discussion, you may deduct the expenses for meals and beverages to the extent they are ordinary and necessary expenses.

Consider this “no discussion” meal a “quiet business meal.”

Question 2. What are circumstances conducive to a business discussion?

Answer 2. This depends on the facts, taking into account the surroundings in which the meals or beverages are furnished, your business, and your relationship to the person entertained. The surroundings should be such that there are no substantial distractions to the discussion.

Generally, a restaurant, a hotel dining room, or a similar place that does not involve distracting influences, such as a floor show, is considered conducive to a business discussion. On the other hand, business meals at nightclubs, sporting events, large cocktail parties, and sizable social gatherings would not generally be conducive to a business discussion.

Meals Served in Your Home

Question 3. Does a business meal served in your home disqualify the deduction?

Answer 3. No, as long as you serve the food and beverages under circumstances conducive to a business discussion. But because you are in your home, the IRS adds that you must clearly show that the expenditure was commercially rather than socially motivated.

Goodwill Meals

Question 4. If, for goodwill purposes, you take a customer and his or her spouse to lunch and don’t discuss business, will the cost of the lunch become non-deductible?

Answer 4. Not if, in light of all facts and circumstances, the surroundings are considered conducive to a business discussion, and the expenses are ordinary and necessary expenses of carrying on the business rather than socially motivated expenses.

Question 5. Is the situation the same if the taxpayer’s spouse accompanies the taxpayer at a dinner for business goodwill reasons?

Answer 5. Yes, the meal is deductible. This is true whether or not the customer’s spouse is present. Again, the meal must meet the ordinary and necessary business expense standards.

Document the Meal Deductions

You need to keep records that prove your business meals are ordinary and necessary business expenses. You can accomplish this by keeping the following:

  1. Receipts that show the purchases (food and drinks consumed)
  2. Proof of payment (credit card receipt/statement or canceled check)
  3. Note of the name of the person or persons with whom you had the meals
  4. Record of the business reason for the meal (a short note—say, seven words or fewer)

The costs of your business meals continue to be 50 percent deductible (as they were before the TCJA).

 

Related Newsletter: 14 Tax Reduction Strategies for the Self-Employed

 

SERVICES WE OFFER RELATED TO THIS TOPIC

The information contained in this post is for general use and educational purposes only.  However, we do offer specific services to our clients to help them implement the strategies mentioned above.  For specific information and to determine if these services may be a good fit for you, please select any of the services listed below. 

\

The 4x4 Financial Independence Plan ˢᵐ

\

The Smart Tax Planning System for Business Owners ˢᵐ

\

The Smart Tax Minimizer (For Consumer and Home-Based Businesses) ˢᵐ

For more information on tax planning, visit our Tax Planning page to see our list of services.

 

You May Also Like…

Investment Advisory Services are offered through Lifetime Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory. Insurance and other financial products and services are offered through Lifetime Paradigm, Inc. or Lifetime Paradigm Insurance Services. Neither Lifetime Financial, Inc. nor Lifetime Paradigm, Inc., or its associates and subsidiaries provide any specific tax or legal advice. Only guidance is provided in these areas. For specific recommendations please consult with a qualified, licensed Advisor. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Your results can and will vary. Investments are subject to risk, including market and interest rate fluctuations. Investors can and do lose money and, unless otherwise noted, they are not guaranteed. Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended for the sale or purchase of any specific securities product, service or investment strategy. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER, TAX PROFESSIONAL, OR ATTORNEY BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY OR RECOMMENDATION DISCUSSED HEREIN.

This message is intended for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you think you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by reply e-mail or by telephone (800) 810-1736 and delete the original message.

This notice is required by IRS Circular 230, which regulates written communications about federal tax matters between tax advisors and their clients. To the extent the preceding correspondence and/or any attachment is a written tax advice communication, it is not a full "covered opinion." Accordingly, this advice is not intended and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS.