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claiming meals on your federal taxes

Can you claim (on your...
Can you claim (on your federal taxes) meals bought while out of town working? I leave town on Sunday afternoon and return home on Thursday evening. My employer provides lodging but not meals. If you can, what are the requirements and what form do you use?
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
4/4/2008
Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 30,703
Experience: Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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Was it a business trip? Did your employer pay per diem? transportation?
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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
Reply to LEV's Post: It is my regular schedule for work. I do that every week. I drive a company truck to and from the job sites which change. My employer did not pay me per diem. I thought I could deduct the IRS rate for meals if I did not get paid the per diem but I just picked up my taxes and though the accountant used that amount to do my state and local taxes, they did not use it anywhere on my federal. If your employer pays per diem, is that a taxable occurence to me?
Is that your regular place of employment? or it is a temporary place?
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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
Reply to LEV's Post: It is my regular place of employment. I work for a land service doing environmental work - I mostly work in the Baltimore, DC, and Delaware areas.

Please refer to IRS publication 463 Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf

To deduct your meal expenses - you should travel away from home for business to temporary place. You need to have you permanent place to be eligible for deductions.

Temporary job assignment would be if it is expected to last and actually lasted less than a year.

As that is your regular place of employment and it is lasted more than a year - you may not deduct any travel expenses.

Please let me know if you need any clarification.

Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
I don't understand the answer completely. Perhaps I did not explain it well. I work for a company that is based in PA - I am sent on jobs to different areas - most always different states. I am a supervisor and handle usually 2 or 3 jobs at a time so I travel between them. My company either puts the crews up in hotel rooms (or apartments if the job is going to last longer than 6 months). So, how am I not traveling for work and how can these places be my regular place of employment?

You may deduct travel expenses - including lodging, per diem, and transportation expenses (mileage if you use your own car) - travel expenses are the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job.

If you do not have tax home - and just moving to places where you job is - you may not deduct travel expenses. Generally, your tax home is your regular place of business or post of duty, regardless of where you maintain your family home. If you do not have a regular place of business or post of duty and there is no place where you regularly live, you are considered an itinerant (a transient) and your tax home is wherever you work. As an itinerant, you cannot claim a travel expense deduction because you are never considered to be traveling away from home.

If your assignment or job away from your main place of work is temporary, your tax home does not change. You are considered to be away from home for the whole period you are away from your main place of work. You can deduct your travel expenses if they otherwise qualify for deduction. Generally, a temporary assignment in a single location is one that is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for one year or less.

Please elaborate.

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
The company I work for has an office that is considered the main location - I am there every Friday to turn in paperwork and go over jobs. It is located in the town I live in. The other jobs are assigned as they come in - none of them have been close enough for me to drive back and forth each day from my residence. On average they are about 5 or 6 hours from my home.

The company main office - may be considered as your main place of work - you do not need to convince me - I am on your side - as we are in the gray area - the question is - would the IRS agent agree with these argument in case of audit?...

If that is your main place of work - any other job locations would be considered as temporary and travel expenses would be deductible.

The standard meal allowance is the federal rate for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). The rate for most small localities in the United States is $39 a day from Jan 1, through Dec 31, 2007. Most major cities and many other localities qualify for higher rates. The rates for localities within the continental United States are listed in Publication 1542. - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1542.pdf

If you used your car for business - you may deduct either actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate. For 2007, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for business use is 48½ cents per mile. please see for reference IRS publication 463 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf

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