Meals and Entertainment Expenses: Are You Getting Your Full Share of Tax Deductions?

Taking a prospect to lunch is one of the most common business-development activities. Another regular business practice is to provide lunches for employees during meetings, training sessions and social gatherings.

One of these activities is 100% deductible on your tax return. The other situation is only 50% deductible. Do you know which is which?

The IRS certainly knows. And IRS rules can be tricky to navigate if you are not familiar with them. So here’s a quick reference for some common meals and entertainment (M&E) scenarios:

Participants Purpose Deductible
prospective employee or prospective client business meeting 50%
anyone who attends promotional event 100%
executives business meetings 100%
employees business meetings 100%
any employees/clients break room snacks/drinks 100%
any employees/clients holiday/anniversary party 100%
any participants non-business related not deductible
2 out of 10 executives business lunch 50%
mentor and mentee mentoring meeting 100%
employees out-of-town meals 50%

Most businesses have only one expense account for meals and entertainment expenditures, and often everything is safely treated as only 50% deductible.

This is easily fixed.

To ensure that you are getting your full tax deduction, you should operate with two meals and entertainment expense accounts: label the first account “100% deductible M&E,” and label the second account “50% deductible M&E.” Then, using the table above as a handy guide, categorize the expenses accordingly.

Also remember to keep appropriate documentation (such as a receipt) of all your expenses.

By properly recording your 100% deductible meals and entertainment expenses, you can increase your deductions and, more importantly, lower your tax bill!

If you have any questions about deducting your meals & entertainment expenses, please feel free to contact us. We can help you determine the appropriate way to record your expenses.