Combining Your Vacation and Business Travel to Save on Taxes

A vacation can be quite a high expenditure, yet may be a necessary break for you and your family. As vacations are typically considered a luxury expense, it means that you have to bear all the costs for your vacation with no help or breaks from Uncle Sam. However, with proper tax planning, you can deduct some vacation expenses under business travel. This is common practice is especially popular in the corporate world. Ever wondered why management meetings, corporate strategic meetings, or client entertainment are done in extravagant and lavish hotels?

You need to be careful when deducting the vacation/”business” expenses to ensure that you are within the rules of what the IRS qualifies as permissible costs. Furthermore, besides business travel, you can also deduct expenses for travel that couples as trips in looking for a job. These tips will help you properly plan your trip and maximize on possible “business” deductions:

Job Hunt Travel Expenses

The tax code allows for individuals to deduct travel expenses for travel to look for employment, even if one does not consequently get a job. However, you need to have been searching for a job that is in line with your current occupation. You cannot claim deductions if you are a first-time job searcher or if you are looking for a job outside your current career field. The IRS does not also allow taxpayers to deduct expenses if they have been unemployed for a long time and are looking to get back into the job market, even if their search for a job is within his or her former business or career specialty. The IRS permits deductions for expenses including travel, meals, and lodging accommodations. Therefore, when planning your vacation, you can combine the travel expenses with the expenses accumulated in search of new employment to claim the deductions.

Transportation Costs for Business Travel

Business travel deductions come with several rules that have to be carefully followed. The IRS is aware that a lot of business expenses can be misused to cater to personal expenses. Therefore, this could be a red flag area for IRS audits and therefore, you need to be careful when claiming such deductions. Costs for transportation within the U.S. are allowed if a trip has a business purpose. For international travel, a taxpayer will need to demonstrate that at least 75% of the trip’s purpose was for business to have the costs allowed as a deductible. If not, the taxpayer will need to set aside the business elements of the travel costs from the personal elements. If business travel is on a cruise, then it has to be on a U.S. vessel and the vessel must avoid docking at foreign harbors to be tax deductible. The business expense deductible for a cruise has at a cap of $2,000.00 a year.

Accommodation and Meals for Business Travel

For accommodation and meals, one needs to show that the stay was business-driven. However, you can overstay in your travel destination and enjoy a vacation after the business dealings are done. In such a case, you can only deduct the transport expenses and the expenses incurred during the business period of your trip. You will have to shoulder the full expenses of the extension time, as this is a personal expense. For business meals for yourself and your business associates, the tax code allows for only 50% of the cost to be deductible (you will need to foot the other 50% without a deduction break).

Other Expenses

The IRS also allows the deduction of any other business-related expenses while on your business travel. These expenses include tips, any taxi or car hiring expenses, phone calls, Internet connectivity charges, and laundry. However, the expenses need to be reasonable to avoid unnecessary audits. Furthermore, the IRS can reject deduction claims based on the levels of extravagance. There is a fine balancing that needs to be practiced here to avoid any IRS problems.

Travel with Family

If your business and vacation travel includes your family, you cannot deduct any of the expenses relating only to your family. You can however, deduct any costs that you shared with your family as business expenses. If for example you traveled to your destination for business in your car with your family in tow, then the transport will be an allowable business expense. You can also combine other costs such as car-hire costs and shared accommodations.

Why not combine business with pleasure? If you have the opportunity to travel for business, you can enjoy some new restaurants, hotels, or entertainment spots with your business associates and be able to get some tax relief from Uncle Sam. Or, maybe you can take some “personal time” on the road and do some job hunting on your trip to get some tax breaks.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.