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Business Meal Deduction Changes With the Consolidated Appropriations Act

The Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed into law December 27, 2020 includes a temporary provision allowing a 100 percent write-off for business meals from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022.  The food and beverages must be provided by a restaurant, although they do not need to be consumed on a restaurant’s premises. The deduction also includes any delivery fees, tips and sales tax.  This is an increase from the 50 percent deduction that applied for 2020 and earlier years.

It is important to note that other than lifting the 50 percent limitation on deductions for meal expenses, this legislation doesn’t amend any of the other rules related to business meal deductions.  Therefore, to be deductible:

  • Business meals should still have a business purpose and involve dining with current or prospective customers, clients, suppliers, employees, partners, or professional advisors.
  • The food and beverages should not be lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.
  • You or one of your employees must be present when the food or beverages are served.

Although meals are 100 percent deductible, entertainment expenses are still disallowed.  So, while taking a client out for a dinner is tax deductible, the cost of the baseball game after dinner is not.  Furthermore, if an entertainment event includes food and beverages, they must either be purchased separately from the entertainment or broken out on a separate invoice or receipt.  Be sure to update your chart of accounts to make an account for meals and another for entertainment.


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