Weekend Travel Expense Tax Breaks
Generally you can deduct business travel expenses if the “primary purpose” of the trip is business-related. But the number of business days versus personal days is critical. Hotels and airlines often have incentives for staying an extra day with reduced rates and reduced airfares.
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Here’s an example: You’re scheduled to fly into town on business Wednesday and return on Friday night. The round-trip airfare is $1,200 but if you return on Saturday, it is a $500 airfare. Additionally, the hotel normally costs $200 a night, but the rate is cut in half for a Friday night stay. If you spend $100 on meals each day, the three-day business trip would cost $1,900 ($1,200 airfare $400 lodging $300 on meals).
Now assume you stay Friday night and return on Saturday, the cost is now only $1,200 ($500 airfare $500 lodging $400 on meals). You save $700 with a small change in travel plans.
The IRS has said a taxpayer in this situation can deduct lodging costs and 50% of the meals for all four days if he or she is staying longer to qualify for discounted airfare. It doesn’t matter if the extra day is just spent relaxing.