By topic: Travel

Tax Primer for the U.S. Citizen Living and Working Abroad

If you are a U.S. citizen living and working abroad, you need to think about taxes, both those in the United States and those in the country where you are living and working. This article will steer you in the right direction.

12 Answers to Questions on Proving Expenses for Business Travel

Whether you operate your business as a corporation or as a proprietorship, you need to record your tax-deductible travel expenses in an IRS-approved manner. This means you need to know technically what a receipt is and when you do and do not need one. By the way, the credit card statement is not a receipt. This report explains how to keep your tax records, gives you an easy record-keeping resource to use, and helps you build audit-proof records that prove your travel expenses.

Travel to a Fancy Resort Hotel Where You Use Your Laptop for CE

Discover an innovative continuing education opportunity that combines learning with a luxurious resort experience. This unique event, held at a five-star resort, allows participants to earn business-related education credits and potentially enjoy tax deductions for travel and meals.

Don’t Expose Yourself with Improper Use of the $75 Rule

Confused about when you need a receipt for a business expense? The rules can be tricky. Don’t risk getting it wrong. Here’s what you need to know about the $75 receipt rule.

Helicopter View of 2023 Meals and Entertainment

As with much of life today, tax rules keep changing. Accordingly, in this article, we have a new helicopter view of meals and entertainment for 2023.

How to Switch from the Mileage-Rate to the Actual-Expense Method

Are you currently using IRS mileage rates to deduct your business vehicle? Is that the right choice for you? If not, you will be happy to know that you can switch to the actual-expense method. The IRS gives you two ways, depending on when you want to make the switch.

Tax-Deductible Cruise Ship Travel to Mexico

You may not have thought of this, but taking a cruise ship to Mexico for a business meeting is acceptable as a deductible form of transportation.

$75 Receipt Rule for Business Vehicles

Under tax law, your business vehicle is considered “listed property.” The IRS has a regulation that applies the $75 receipt rule to listed property.

Business Travel: Stay at the Mom and Dad Hotel

Stay with family and friends when traveling for business. And then create tax deductions by paying them for your business lodging. You have a choice: deduct the cost of staying at the big hotel downtown, or deduct the cost of staying with your friends or family. Either way, the choice of location does not change the fact that you are on a tax-deductible business trip. The side benefit is that doing this right creates tax-free income for your friends and relatives.

10 Tax Strategies for Schedule C Taxpayers: What, How, and Where

Use these 10 strategies on your Schedule C business to generate tax savings.

PDF Download: Guide to Deducting Travel Expenses

Whether you travel out of town for business by car, airplane, or boat, you need tax knowledge to create some tax-deductible personal fun days. (Yep, you read that right.) This free guide clarifies the tax law so you can not only ensure your travel deductions, but also turn some personal days into deductible business travel days.

Be Sure to Know the Tax-Home Rule

When you travel out of town overnight, you need to know the tax-home rule. The IRS defines your tax home, and it’s not necessarily in the same town where you have your personal residence.

How the Law Decides If Your Travel Day Is Personal or Business

If you travel out of town overnight on business, you need knowledge of the tax rules that allow and disallow such travel. This article clarifies the days that tax law deems to be business and the days that tax law deems to be personal.

Deduct 100 Percent of Your Business Meals under New Rules

Congress wanted to help restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they created a special rule that allows you to deduct 100 percent of most of your restaurant business meals for tax years 2021 and 2022. You can take proactive steps now to ensure all your business meals going forward qualify for this 100 percent deduction. Here’s a hint: if you are deducting per diem amounts for your business travel meals, you’ll lose out.

Update: COVID-19 Tax Relief Measures after the New Law

The CARES Act made many temporary changes in the tax law. The new Consolidated Appropriations Act adjusted some of these and left others to die on December 31, 2020. With all the changes that took place in 2020, you need to know what’s left, enhanced, and over with, as we explain in this article.

Create Deductions: Use Your Vacation Home for Business Lodging

The properly used business vacation home or condo does not run up against the oppressive vacation-home, passive-loss, or entertainment-facility rules. That’s a huge plus. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, use of the vacation home for business lodging makes good sense.

Does the Per Diem Expense Option Stick It to Business Owners?

If you’re a business owner, should you take advantage of per diems when you travel? The short answer is yes and no—and perhaps surprisingly, keeping track of your actual expenses is often a better plan anyway. Here’s why.

Per Diems Post-Tax Reform: What the TCJA Has and Hasn’t Changed

If you have employees who travel for your business, would the IRS travel per diem method simplify your record keeping and reduce your risk of audit disallowance?

Q&A: Is My Trip a Deductible Business Expense?

You booked a short personal trip. Now you find that an important vendor is going to the same location where you are taking your personal trip. Does dinner with the vendor convert this trip from personal to a tax-deductible business trip?

Personal Use of Your Rental Triggers Ugly Vacation Home Rules

When you have both personal and rental use of a dwelling, you trigger some tricky tax code rules you need to know. With both personal and rental use, you create the possibility of tax-free rent, rental property deductions, and additional personal residence deductions.

How to Deduct Cruise Ship Conventions, Seminars, and Meetings

If you want to attend a convention, seminar, or similar meeting onboard a cruise ship and deduct all your costs, you face some very special rules. It can be done. But when you know the tax code rules, you will find an enlightened workaround that removes almost all the hassle and gives you what you want.

Q&A: The IRS Audit Is Wrong on First-and-Last-Stop Rule

In this IRS examination, the examiner mistakenly applied the first-and-last-stop business commuting rule. We explain what the IRS got wrong and what documents can be used to overturn the IRS’s decision.

Q&A: Can the IRS Require Odometer Readings with the Mileage Rate?

What proof of mileage do I need if I’m using the IRS standard mileage method? Can the IRS require me to provide odometer readings as proof?

Q&A: Deduct Your Costs of Sponsoring Sports Teams

What does it take to deduct the costs of sponsoring a sports team? What if you play on the team? Could you pay for the team travel expenses? This article answers the sports team sponsorship tax deduction questions for you.

Tax Planning to Winter in Florida and Summer in Massachusetts

You can plan your tax-deductible business life to avoid cold winters and hot summers. To do this, you need to know what a tax home is and where your tax home is located. The good news is that you have just one tax home unless you are one of those rare individuals who has no physical home.

Proving Travel Expenses after Tax Reform

Whether you operate your business as a corporation or as a proprietorship, you need to record your tax-deductible travel expenses in an IRS-approved manner. This means you need to know technically what a receipt is—and when you do or do not need one. By the way, the credit card statement is not a receipt.

Are Your Rental Properties a Business? If So, You Win

If you own rental properties, you don’t want the tax law to call the rentals an investment. Instead, you want the rental properties to qualify as a trade or business so that you achieve tax-favored Section 1231 treatment and many other tax breaks.

Q&A: Tax Deductions for Nine Months of Out-of-Town Travel

How does the tax code define a temporary assignment that qualifies you for tax deductions during a full period of stay, such as nine full months? In this article, you learn how federal per diem rates interact with some actual expenses and what you need in place to achieve deductions for a temporary out-of-town work assignment.

Use the Foreign Tax Credit to Minimize U.S. Taxes When You Work Abroad

The tax law offers several ways to reduce or eliminate U.S. income taxes or foreign-sourced earned income. Picking the correct tax-reduction strategy based on your situation is the key to minimizing your U.S. income tax liability. In this article, you see common scenarios and options that show you how to pay the least amount of U.S. income tax on your foreign-sourced earned income.

2016 Last-Minute Business Motor Home Purchase

A business motor home could provide both big tax deductions and an ideal solution to your business lodging and transportation needs. You would know how clean your sleeping room is. You would know the room’s smoking history. You would know how many pets, if any, have graced the premises.

How to Travel to Exotic Locations Using the Seven-Day Travel Rule

When you travel outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, you can use a special seven-day travel rule to deduct your business transportation costs to and from that business destination even when you work only one day during that trip. The special rules that apply to this seven-day travel are clear and easy to understand.

IRS Expands Tax-Deductible Meetings and Seminars Boondoggle Areas

Tax law places all conventions, seminars, and similar meetings into one of two areas: (a) inside or (b) outside the North American area. When you are outside the North American area, the rules do about everything possible to make your convention, seminar, or similar meeting nondeductible. So, if your group is not a worldwide group, attend conventions, seminars, and similar meetings only in the tax law-defined North American area. (Don’t worry, you’ll find many great locations in the tax code-defined North America area.)

Tax Audit Tips for Entertainment and Vehicle Deductions

Special documentation rules apply to entertainment and vehicles. One rule requires you to document your vehicle mileage within one week. Another rule says you don’t need receipts if the vehicle or entertainment expenditure is less than $75. This no-receipt rule can be hazardous to your deductions. It also does not relieve you from using the right documentation to prove the expenses.

Tax Tips for Credit Card, Hotel, and Frequent Flyer Rewards

The IRS deemed that personal use of business-earned frequent flyer miles and hotel reward points are tax-free until further notice. Cash rewards are another matter. First, they are not gross income. Second, they reduce basis. Third, they produce a deduction when you donate them to charity.

Two-Person Seminar

A precedent-setting court case establishes that one-on-one training can count as a business seminar for tax purposes. Where do you want your one-on-one seminar to take place? Disney World? St. Thomas?

Foreign Travel: Combining Business and Pleasure

Tax laws and regulations are not known for their clarity. That’s why it’s so surprising how clear the IRS made its regulations on foreign business travel. Even more surprising, the regulations actually work in your favor! If you know what you’re doing, you can deduct most, if not all, of your costs associated with foreign business travel. And the best part: you need not work very hard.

2015 Last-Minute Business Motor Home Purchase

A business motor home could provide both big tax deductions and an ideal solution to your business lodging and transportation needs. You would know how clean your sleeping room is. You would know the room’s smoking and no-smoking history. You would know how many pets, if any, have graced the premises.

How to Treat Your Coin, Stamp, and Baseball Card Activities

Tax law places your collectible activity in one of four tax categories: (1) hobby, (2) investment, (3) trader, or (4) dealer. This means your collectible activity can, depending on category, trigger the AMT, capital gains, and self-employment taxes. When you know the rules that place you in these categories, you can make adjustments. Sometimes the adjustments are easy; at other times, they require rethinking the collectibles activity.

Don’t Lose a Penny of Your Mileage Deduction: Defend It with Simple, Inexpensive Apps and GPS Tools

Four Steps to Turn a Husband-and-Wife-Only Board Meeting into a Money-Saving, Tax-Deductible Resort Stay

Where can you hold your tax-deductible board meetings if you operate your business as a corporation? Could you go to a nice resort? What if you and your spouse are the only board members? This article answers these common questions. It’s sure to make you smile.

A Cruise Makes a Fabulous Vacation—and a Fabulous Tax Deduction If You Plan It Right

Do you have an upcoming business trip? Wouldn’t it be nice to travel there on a cruise ship and reach your destination fully revitalized? Surprisingly, tax law allows you to treat your cruise vacation as a business transportation expense, which means you can deduct most or all of the cost.

Spy on Your Competitors, Discover Ways to Improve Your Business, and Write Off the Whole Expense!

Have you ever visited a competing business as a customer to see how its operations stack up to yours? With the right documentation, you can fully deduct the costs of this research into your rival—even the amount you pay for their products or services—as business expenses.

Don’t Let Expense Report Blunders Trigger Unnecessary Taxes, Punishing You and Your Employees

If you reimburse your employees for business expenses, or if you operate your business as an S or a C corporation, it’s crucial that you know and follow the IRS accountable plan rules—this will save money not only for you but also for your employees. We’ll give you two easy-to-use tools that will help you seamlessly incorporate these rules into your business routine.

Five Rules for Turning Your Vacation—Even a Luxurious One—into Tax-Deductible Business Travel

The next time you plan a vacation, stop and think about how you could make it deductible. If you find a good business reason to visit that destination and you throw in enough business hours on the trip, you suddenly convert a nondeductible personal trip into a deductible business expense.

3 Rules Ensure That You Can Deduct Lodging Expenses under New Regs—Even When You’re Staying Close to Home!

The IRS lifted its long-standing ban against deductions for local lodging expenses. Now you can deduct the cost of a hotel for yourself or your employees even if you’re staying near your home. But there are three rules to know to make sure that your expense falls within the IRS “safe harbor” for deductibility.

Should You Gamble on a Big Motor Home Deduction This Year?

You can use a motor home for your business. If you are thinking of buying a motor home at this time, your Section 179 expensing election is somewhat in limbo. It’s possible that lawmakers will reinstate last year’s limits on Section 179 expensing. This article examines the gamble you take if you buy before lawmakers take action or if they fail to reinstate last year’s limits.

Supercharge Travel Deductions by Knowing the Business Day Rules

When you take a trip and spend some of your time on business and some time on personal activities, how much of your expenses can you deduct? What happens to your expenses on holidays? Knowing the answers to questions such as these puts money in your pocket and safeguards you from IRS attack on your travel deductions.

Secrets to Deducting a Convention, Seminar, or Similar Meeting

If you are going to attend a convention, seminar, or similar meeting, you need to know that tax law breaks the Earth into two locations. In location one, you deduct your convention, seminar, or similar meeting if the event benefits or advances the interests of your business. That’s easy. In location two, you have to meet a much more difficult reasonableness standard. That’s not easy.

The Right Way to Ask Your S Corporation for Travel Reimbursements

When you operate your business as an S corporation or a C corporation, you first need to remember that the corporation is a separate legal entity. If you incur travel expenses on behalf of the corporation, those are corporate expenses. You either need an agreement saying you can deduct the expenses personally or that you will submit the expenses for reimbursement. One of these two choices is really bad.

Tax Deductions for Entertainment Facility; Part 4, Vacation Home

The entertainment facility rules are designed to destroy your entertainment facility deductions. But the law contains a number of exceptions. In Part 4 of this series, you learn how to use the business meeting and overnight lodging rules to make your vacation home a tax-deductible business asset.

Don’t Let Your Tax-Deductible Receipts Fade and Disappear

Learn how today’s restaurant and other receipts printed on thermal paper can create big trouble for your tax deductions. Over time, the images on thermal paper can totally disappear. And of those that have not yet totally disappeared, you have many that you can’t read. This means you need to create a plan that includes scanning or photocopying thermal receipts.

Court Denies Tax Deductions for Motorhome and Two Business Cars

Say the IRS sent you one of those lovely letters that says: “Come on down and bring your tax records with you.” How would your tax records hold up in an IRS audit? That’s a scary question. You need to make sure that you have this one tax record in good shape when you appear for an audit. Mr. Dunford, the subject of this article, failed that one record and it cost him plenty.

Test Your Tax IQ: Tax-Deductible Cruise Ship Travel

You may deduct your costs of business travel. But what happens to your deductions when you travel by cruise ship? Do the rules change? Do the rules vary by business destination? The answer is that the tax-deduction rules change for cruise ship travel and they change by business destination.

Danger: Your Personal Home Is Not Your Tax Home

Depending on how you operate your business and where it’s located, the federal income tax terms “personal home” and “tax home” can have a big impact on your business vehicle deductions. And then there’s the difference between the federal income tax terms “business travel” and “business transportation” and how one rule applies when you are inside the area of your tax home.

Answers about Tax-Deductible Business Travel

If you intend to travel to a business or personal location, you should check out the travel rules before you take the trip. This article sets the stage for what you need to consider. You might find that what you thought was going to be a personal trip is instead a tax-deductible business trip.

How to Prove Expenses for Tax-Deductible Business Travel

Whether you operate your business as a corporation or as a proprietorship, you need to record your tax-deductible travel expenses in an IRS-approved manner. This means you need to know technically what a receipt is and when you do and do not need one. By the way, the credit card statement is not a receipt. This report explains how to keep your tax records, gives you an easy record-keeping resource to use, and helps you build audit-proof records that prove your travel expenses.

Critical Tax-Deduction Proof for Nine-Day Trip to Jamaica

If you take a nine-day trip to Jamaica, how many days devoted to business do you need to make the trip tax-deductible? What happens when you spend one of those days doing no business and simply playing on the beach? The critical elements in this article give you a crystal-clear explanation of when and why you can deduct certain days, even those days when you do no work.

How to Qualify Conventions and Seminars for Tax Deductions

It’s easy to think that a business convention, seminar, or similar meeting is deductible when in fact it is not. The meeting could be in the wrong location. It might have the wrong people in attendance. Its purpose might not rise to the level needed for deduction. Protect your deductions for conventions, seminars, and similar meetings by knowing the rules in this article.

Tax-Deductible Reasons for Business Travel

One of the many benefits to owning your own business is the ability to deduct travel expenses, especially when you combine pleasure with business travel. You likely know lots of reasons for legitimate business travel, but this article will add new reasons and additional knowledge.

How to Deduct Travel by Car, Train, Plane, or Boat

You have a wide variety of choices on how to travel for business. You can use a car, train, plane, or boat. You can fly economy, business, or first class. Should you own a plane, you can use it for business travel. Special rules apply to the plane, boat, and car; accordingly, if you travel for your business, you should know the rules in this article.

How to Deduct the Transportation Component of Your Business Travel

Your tax deductions for the transportation component of your overnight business travel face a set of rules separate from the business-day rules we examined last month. When in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, you deduct your transportation cost under the 51/49 test. When you travel outside the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, you are subject to the 76/24 test for deducting your business transportation. And, as mentioned, the calculation for deducting the cost of transportation is separate and apart from calculations for deducting meals and lodging.

Motorhome Tax Deduction Questioned in My IRS Audit

When you use a motorhome for business travel, what tax rules do you trigger? For example, is the motorhome for lodging or transportation? Lodging has one set of rules. Transportation has a different set of rules.

Does the Tax-Home Rule Destroy Your Business Travel and Home-Office Deductions?

The tax law definition of your tax home can jump up and bite you when you have a business operation away from your personal residence. Since tax law does not govern where you live, it treats your decision on where to locate your home as a personal decision that gives you a personal location. When your tax home is not near your personal home, you can lose both (a) overnight business travel deductions and (2) business mileage from an office inside the home to a regular office outside the home.

Tax Tips to Identify Tax-Deductible Travel Days

The IRS recognizes deductible business travel using the “overnight rule.” In other words, to have a deductible business travel day, you must be away from home long enough to stay overnight or require sleep or rest. Once this rule is in play, special circumstances can make weekends, holidays, and other personal days tax deductible. This article puts the many travel-day circumstances in an easy-to-use flowchart so that you can save tax dollars on your combined personal and business trips.

Why This Travel Deduction to Cancun, Mexico, for an Online CE Course Fails

Beware of online continuing education courses that claim you can participate in them at any location of your choosing (such as a fancy resort in Cancun) and deduct airfare, meals, lodging, and other expenses for attending. The problem with these courses is that you fail tax law’s primary purpose test for deducting travel expenses. Thus, to deduct a videotape or online course, the course has to be offered at the site.

New IRS Ruling Improves Tax Deductions for Business Travel to Panama

Panama is now part of the tax-defined North American area where tax deductions are favored by tax law. For entry into this favored tax-deductible area, Panama had to agree to give the IRS and other government agencies banking and other information that otherwise was not available under Panama’s bank secrecy laws.

Deduct That Convention in Paris

Learn the two special rules that make travel to a convention in Paris or other foreign destination tax deductible, or not.

How the Law Decides If This Travel Day Is Personal or Business

If you travel out of town overnight on business, you need knowledge of the tax rules that allow and disallow such travel. This article clarifies the days that tax law deems to be business and the days that tax law deems to be personal.

Tax Audit Tips for Travel, Entertainment, and Education

How do you lose deductions to the IRS in an audit? Worse, how do you compound that loss of deductions by taking your case to court? In this article, see how one proprietor managed to do both.

Tax Tips on Failed Rental Property Purchase

Learn how you treat monies spent when your attempted purchase of a rental property fails. Tax law provides you with a path of special, mostly favorable tax rules.

Tax Deductions for the Business Town House

Doing business in two different locations requires tax knowledge. The purchase of a town house in the second location brings up many tax planning opportunities and a few hazards to avoid.

Tax Savings Trap Crushes S Corporation Owner’s Expenses

Poor planning for the S corporation owner’s business expenses can cost the owner every penny of his deductions.

How to Deduct the Timeshare Condo

Proper business use of your timeshare grants business tax deductions.

Travel Tax Deductions Can Include Educational Trip to the Bahamas

When you know what you are doing, you can qualify trips to the Bahamas and similar destinations as tax-deductible trips.

Deducting Travel to a Second Business in a Second State

If you operate one business with two operations in separate states, you need to know the rules to tax deduct overnight business travel between the two locations. You also need to know these tax deduction rules if you have two businesses in two states.

Husband and Wife S Corporation Board Meeting

The Heineman case gives a roadmap to how a husband and wife might deduct the cost of attending a board of directors meeting where they are the only participants. Using the principles enunciated in Heineman, husband-and-wife corporate owners will find deducting the out-of-town board meeting easier than deducting board meetings that occur in town.

Boondoggle Trip with Employees

Most entertainment deductions are cut by 50 percent when you complete the tax return. Tax law grants a number of exceptions to the 50 percent cut. One exception eliminates the 50 percent and grants a 100 percent deduction to the party, facility, or entertainment that is primarily for the benefit of employees.

It’s Ski Season—Let’s Make Your Skiing Deductible

The first thing to get straight with the skiing deduction is that it is deductible as associated entertainment. Thus, you need a bona fide business discussion in a business setting before or after the skiing. If you are staying overnight, remember that lodging for business entertainment purposes is not deductible, but lodging for business education or meetings is deductible.


Tips to Audit-Proof Your Records

The law gives you no choice but to keep the proper tax records on a timely basis. This is pretty easy when you know what to do. One easy rule to follow is to never commingle your activities in your bank accounts. Both the rule that requires a mileage log and the rule that requires a time log are more difficult, but absolutely essential to proving your deductions.

Recruiting Expense

You may deduct travel, meals, and lodging in an unsuccessful attempt to hire an employee.


When You Benefit with Travel Per Diem (or Not)

Just as it has standard mileage rates, the IRS has standard per diem rates for daily travel costs. There are situations where you might benefit from the mileage rates and the travel per diems. This article explains how the per diem rules work for you as a self-employed taxpayer, and gives you the ability to make an informed decision on whether or not to use the per diem rates.

Gym Fees as Travel Expenses

Contrary to popular opinion (and an IRS official), you can deduct gym fees when traveling for business. See the evidence and read how to deduct gym fees as travel expenses.

No Deduction for One-on-One Investment Training

Learn from one taxpayer’s mistakes: know the details regarding seminars and training! Investors cannot deduct training, so you have to follow a few of our tips to help make one-on-one seminars deductible. Also, we give you important information about tax reform and tax changes.

Trip to Canada

It is surprisingly easy to deduct a trip to Canada, even if you only work one day while there. Use the sandwich rule, and you can deduct even more.

Cruise to Alaska

It is easy to deduct business trips within the US. We have a series of criteria and tips to help you plan your next (business) trip.

Hunt Doctor Courses

You need a solid plan when you want to combine deductible education with deductible hunting.

Fishing Trip with CE

A continuing education group of dentists is going on a fishing trip to Alaska. We help them make the trip deductible by going over the nuts and bolts to make it substantive in scope and content.

No Meal Receipts Equals No Deduction

This taxpayer lost $5,503 in meal expenses because she could not produce receipts or other records to prove the meal deductions.


Cruise to Mexico

Taking a cruise ship to Mexico for a business meeting is an acceptable, and deductible, form of travel.


Deduction for Family Wedding

Trying to deduct the expenses for a wedding? Good luck. We don’t think it’ll work. You’ll have a much better shot at deducting it if you can make it a business trip, and still attend the wedding,

Convention Boondoggle Area Expanded

Tax law divides conventions into two areas: the North American area and everything else. When you are outside the North American area, the rules do about everything possible to make your convention trip nondeductible. So, if your group is not a worldwide group, attend only conventions in the defined North American area. However, there are a lot of locations that count as North America in which you can attend a conference and deduct.

Tax Quiz—IRS Audit

4% of Americans are audited each year. Do you know what two line-item expenses are most vulnerable to a Schedule C audit? Take our quiz and find out!

Tax Lawyer Fails Deductions

William Lenihan, a well-educated tax lawyer, lost every deduction he claimed on both his Schedule C consulting business and his Schedule E rental businesses because he did not keep good records. Know the law! Keep good records!

How Safe-Harbor Rules Can Audit-Proof Your Cruise to the Caribbean

Ask yourself two questions: First, would you like to take a cruise? Second, would you like to get a tax deduction for the cost of your cruise? If you answered “yes” to both questions, this article is for you.

Travel Deduction for Educational Seminars

When you combine business and personal travel, tax law contains specific rules on what you can and cannot count as a business day. These rules determine if your transportation, lodging, and meal costs are deductible in full, partially deductible, or not deductible at all.

Lack of Proper Records Crushes Deductions

Section 274 is merciless. You need a mileage log and the required elements that prove your overnight stays. Having your CPA prepare these records after the fact fails.

Real Estate Investment Seminar

This real estate boot camp deduction is allowed to the taxpayer who is classified as being “in the business” of renting real estate, but not to the taxpayer classified as an “investor in real estate.”

Top Producer Trip

When you win a top producer award trip to a fancy resort or location, create educational events for yourself to qualify your trip for business travel deductions. When you get this right, you offset the 1099 award value with bona fide business travel expenses.

Getting a 100% Deduction for Meals Served to Independent Contractors

Meals served to your employees and independent contractors at training sessions and incentive award trips are subject to the 50 percent cut that applies to entertainment and meals. To qualify for a 100 percent deduction, you need to include the meal as compensation to the employee or independent contractor. That’s what many Fortune 500 companies do.

Filing Returns for Past Years

Not filing your tax returns on time because you lost or misplaced your tax records is going to make your tax life miserable. The trouble is so bad that you need to consider an “offer in compromise.”

How to Make Golf Deductible

Golf does not qualify as a deductible expense just because you talk about business on the golf course. Golf does qualify for a deduction as associated entertainment when you have the right business discussion in a valid business setting before or after the golf, generally the same day.

Pyramid Scheme Costs Deductions

When you start a new business activity or you do a business activity on the side, you must establish a profit motive. One easy way to demonstrate the profit motive is to show the time you spend on the activity. This taxpayer had no proof of time worked, so he looked suspicious to the court.

Big Price for Bad Records

Making a lot of money is no excuse for keeping bad records. Top off the bad records with failing to give adequate documentation to your CPA and you add to your misery index with negligence penalties. The taxpayer in this court case had to shell out about $5 million in taxes and over $1 million in penalties.

Bad Records Destroy Deductions

The law requires the taxpayer to maintain records sufficient to establish his income and deductions. In select circumstances, estimates provide a rational basis for deductions. With respect to vehicle, entertainment, meals, travel, and gifts; estimates are out and neither the court nor the IRS may grant your deductions without the prescribed records.

New $94,200 Base for Self-Employment Creates Need for Better Planning

In 1935, the self-employment tax topped out at $60. In 2006, the first part of the self-employment tax tops out at $14,413, but the 2.9 percent Medicare part continues after that without limits. Good tax planning for the self-employment tax is like an annuity. It gives you monetary returns—year after year—every year you are in business. So, plan now and consider everything from choice of entity to hiring your children.