You travel all over the world for business. You have meetings with clients, you tour factories, you meet with the owners of other companies looking to partner with you. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For you, work rarely means being in the office and far more often means being at the airport.
You know that you can write off your business trips for tax purposes. They are necessary for your company’s success. They’re part of your lifestyle, but they’re also part of your professional obligation. But what exactly can you write off? Is that trip going to look like a vacation or a business obligation to the IRS? What if it is a bit of both? Below are a few key things to consider.
Business comes first
First and foremost, if you want to write off your transportation expenses, you should know that your trip has to focus on business as the primary purpose. For instance, if you fly to Florida for a meeting that lasts for a half an hour and then you spend the next week renting a house on the ocean, you can’t write off the whole trip. If you fly down and work for four days before spending the next three enjoying that coastline, you may be able to write expenses off.
Travel days count
Another important point is that your travel can count as work if that is the primary focus. Traveling is a business activity. So, if it’s going to be a close race between business days and personal days, remember that the day you leave and the day you return are both business days. That can swing things in your favor. On top of that, you can even count weekends if you work on Friday and again on Monday. You had no choice but to stay through that weekend, even if you were not technically working on Saturday or Sunday.
Maybe you’re already planning this trip in your head. If so, that’s good. A business trip needs to be preplanned. You have to have a solid reason to go before you get to the airport. There is a big difference between setting up meetings or flying to a conference and just getting on a plane with some business cards in your pocket, hoping you can make some sales. The former shows that you are really traveling for business. The latter makes it look like you picked your favorite vacation destination and then searched for excuses as to why it was a work trip after you got there.
Navigating tax law
As you can see, it is important to understand the specifics of tax laws all year around. Make sure you know exactly what legal options you have and how to proceed.