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BK-CPA, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 933
Experience:  Owner of a CPA firm
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We are consultants doing work for call centers in the Northeast

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We are consultants doing work for call centers in the Northeast (NY, NJ, Mass and others). Our home is Houston. We spent many days on the road but less than a year. We also have a writing business and have an apartment in NYC for the writing in addition to our home office. I take per diem for the consulting and actual expenses for the writing. We have large entertainment expenses for dining and plays (some over $750). In the past I take 100% for the T&E and the returns have been approved. Once the amounts were challenged as extravagant but on appeal to the supervisor, the added tax was reversed. I have the review and manager's action on this issue.

May we take per diem for the consulting? We have been doing the consulting for several years now?

May we also take the expenses for the writing?

Will very expensive T&E be okay?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  BK-CPA replied 7 years ago.

Yes, you can use per diem or actual just like always, as long as you meet the requirements for deduction in the first place:


Directly-Related Test


To meet the directly-related test for entertainment expenses (including entertainment-related meals), you must show that:

  • The main purpose of the combined business and entertainment was the active conduct of business,

  • You did engage in business with the person during the entertainment period, and

  • You had more than a general expectation of getting income or some other specific business benefit at some future time.


Business is generally not considered to be the main purpose when business and entertainment are combined on hunting or fishing trips, or on yachts or other pleasure boats. Even if you show that business was the main purpose, you generally cannot deduct the expenses for the use of an entertainment facility. See under What Entertainment Expenses Are Not Deductible? later in this chapter.


"Generally, your tax home is the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home. For example, you live with your family in Chicago but work in Milwaukee where you stay in a hotel and eat in restaurants. You return to Chicago every weekend. You may not deduct any of your travel, meals, or lodging in Milwaukee because that is your tax home. Your travel on weekends to your family home in Chicago is not for your work, so these expenses are also not deductible. If you regularly work in more than one place, your tax home is the general area where your main place of business or work is located. "


"Travel expenses paid or incurred in connection with a temporary work assignment away from home are deductible. However, travel expenses paid in connection with an indefinite work assignment are not deductible. Any work assignment in excess of one year is considered indefinite. Also, you may not deduct travel expenses at a work location if it is realistically expected that you will work there for more than one year, whether or not you actually work there that long. "

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
We have a retainer type arrangement and consult where needed. For example, in 2006 we were in NYC five months, Boston two months, Princeton two months and Gulfport (home) four months. We paid all expenses during the trips. Is per diem okay? The time on each trip was broken up and wouldhave been at our home office for author research in an apartment we paid for. For example, we would be in Boston two weeks, including weekends, and then back to the home office for the weekends, usually extended (that is, three days plus two days plus three days for over a week at home). Do we get per diem? Do we deduct travel, entertainment, lodging?
Expert:  BK-CPA replied 7 years ago.


"Standard Meal Allowance

Generally, you can use the "standard meal allowance" method as an alternative to the actual cost method. It allows you to use a set amount for your daily meals and incidental expenses (M&IE), instead of keeping records of your actual costs. The set amount varies depending on where and when you travel. In this publication, "standard meal allowance" refers to the federal rate for M&IE, discussed later under . If you use the standard meal allowance, you still must keep records to prove the time, place, and business purpose of your travel. See the recordkeeping rules for travel in..."


"Amount of standard meal allowance. The standard meal allowance is the federal M&IE rate. For travel in 2009, the rate for most small localities in the United States is $39 a day for the period January 1 through September 30, 2009, and $46 a day for the period October 1 through December 31, 2009.


Most major cities and many other localities in the United States are designated as high-cost areas, qualifying for higher standard meal allowances. These rates are listed in Publication 1542, which is available on the Internet at "



"3. What does per diem cover?

There is a per diem rate for combined lodging and meal costs, and a per diem rate for meal costs alone. An employer may use either per diem method for reimbursing employee travel expenses. A self-employed person can only use per diem for the meal costs."

Edited by BK-CPA on 5/3/2010 at 5:10 PM EST