Some business meals are 100% deductible

Are you watching what you eat at work? Though that may not seem like a tax question, how you account for meals can affect your business tax return.

One reason why: While you can generally deduct only half the cost of meals related to your business activities, the tax code includes specific exceptions that allow a deduction of 100% of what you spend on food and beverages in certain situations.

Here are three exceptions to the general rule.

* Meals provided to your employees on a social basis. That once-a-year holiday party qualifies for 100% deductibility as a “recreational, social, or similar activity,” as long as it is primarily for the benefit of all your employees.

* Food with nominal cost. Do you supply bottled water, morning-meeting donuts or office snacks for your staff? “De minimis” employee benefits — those small items your business pays for that are not considered taxable income to your employees — are typically 100% deductible.

* Items available to the public. Food served at seminars, promotions, or a “new office warming” reception where you invite the public is 100% deductible.

Remember that you’ll still need to keep detailed records to substantiate your deductions for meals and food served under these exceptions.

We’ll be happy to help you review your expenses and set up a system to account for items that qualify for a more generous deduction.

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today’s small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it.

Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission.

Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations.

She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.

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