How to Write Off a Business Trip

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Careful planning by business owners can make tax rules work in their favor. Expenses that can be documented as necessary business expenses can be written off. Business travel is a legitimate expense, but there are rules that must be followed. Planning your business trips to comply with the Internal Revenue Service rules will allow you to maximize your travel expense write-offs, even if the trip is not totally business-related or you take the family along on the trip.

Keep all your expense documentation from your trip. You must be able to document any expense that you write off. A good way to do this is to put your documentation in an envelope. Write the date, destination and purpose of the trip on the outside of the envelope. Also note any meetings attended and the dates and times and individuals you met with. If you are at a conference, save any registration materials and handouts. Prepare a separate envelope for each trip that you take.

Be reasonable with your expenses. The IRS can disallow any expense the agency considers to be unreasonable, and there are no clear guidelines as to reasonableness. There are travel guidelines for federal employees that can be found at USA.gov. The allowances are generous and if you stay within these guidelines, you are not likely to have a problem with reasonableness.

Deduct your airfare, other transportation expenses and your hotel bill if the trip is more than 50 percent business-related. If you stay over the weekend to save money on airfare, the weekend days are considered business-related. If your family is along, you can only deduct the single occupancy rate for your room.

Deduct 50 percent of meals. You must document attendees at all meals. Write the names on the back of the restaurant receipt or on a sheet of paper and attach the restaurant receipt. Your spouse's meal is not deductible unless you are meeting with a client and the client's spouse is in attendance, or your spouse is a material part of the meeting.

Deduct all other reasonable expenses related to the business portion of the trip. For example, taxi fares, dry cleaning and parking are deductible. Make sure they are properly documented. Proper documentation consists of credit card receipts or vendor receipts indicating payment was made. A taxi receipt is usually hand-written, so make sure it is completed properly.

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