How to Write Off Meals

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Dining out may sometimes be a required part of conducting business.
Dining out may sometimes be a required part of conducting business. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

You are able to write off meals for business purposes and claim them as deductions on your income tax returns. You can claim 50 percent of meals that are primarily used to conduct business with a co-worker or client. Remember, that just because you have lunch with a co-worker for chit-chatting, you cannot write off that meal. You can also claim meals when you have to travel away from home for business or when looking for new employment.

Things You'll Need

  • Meal Receipts
  • IRS Form 2106
  • IRS Form 1040

Get a copy of your receipt from the meal. If possible pay for all of your business related meals on a credit card used solely for this purpose. The receipt is your proof of how much the meal cost.

Note on the receipt what the meal was for. Remember to document on the receipt who you were with and what business was conducted during the meal. If the meal was part of a business trip mark down details of the trip, how long you were away and why you had to travel.

File receipt in a safe location. Keep records of all your meals you plan to write off in a file folder or an envelope labeled for each month. This way if there is a question about a meal you can go to the month and find the receipt.

Claim meal expenses using IRS Form 2106. Enter the total of all meals for the year on Line 5 of Form 2106. Fill in and subtract any reimbursements from your employer for meals and other business related expenses on the following line. Calculate 50 percent of meals that you were not reimbursed for and enter on Line 9, Column B. Calculate with all other business related expenses and enter that number on Line 10.

File with your Form 1040 tax return. Carry the amount from Line 10 on the Form 2106 to Line 21 on Schedule A of your Form 1040. Keep all receipts related to your tax return for three years.

Tips & Warnings

  • If filing your income tax return using Form 1040-EZ you will need to use Form 2106-EZ to claim meals as a tax deduction.

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