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If I went on a trip with family but did business work during 1/2 the time can my 1/2 part of the trip be deducted as a business expense?

Country: USA

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    did the work have to be done in Italy? Jan 31 at 14:27
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    No but it helped my mental state to be near water and mountains.
    – Mary Doe
    Jan 31 at 14:29
  • No. :) If only it were possible... :) Feb 1 at 0:30
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    If that worked, I'd live on a British narrowboat... also, read your visa conditions carefully... some countries do not allow you to telecommute for your home country employer inside their country. You'd need a work visa for that. Weird but true. So watch what you say to the border guard! Feb 2 at 4:38
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    @MaryDoe I think about work best while driving a Ferrari. Feb 2 at 8:45

2 Answers 2

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From the IRS (emphasis added):

Travel expenses are the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job. You can't deduct expenses that are lavish or extravagant, or that are for personal purposes.

You're traveling away from home if your duties require you to be away from the general area of your tax home for a period substantially longer than an ordinary day's work, and you need to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away.

So a trip to Italy with your family to "help your mental state" does not seem "ordinary and necessary", nor do your duties require it. It also seemed to be "for personal purposes" since it was with your family.

You can read the rest of the IRS article to get more details, but I think it would be tough to justify deducting even half of the expenses of the trip in an audit. Business expenses are scrutinized heavily and tend to be significant triggers of audits.

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In addition to what was said already, I want to point out that some expenses might be deducible. This is particularly true if your boss asks you to do work during your travel. E.g:

  • Phone/internet expenses you have due to work for your company can be billed to your company.
  • If you meet a business partner that just happens to be there and organize a dinner with him/her, that invoice goes to the company, too.

Additionally, the time you spend working is not vacation time. So if you work 1/2 time, your vacation allowance should only be reduced by half, meaning you can stay twice as long [according to European laws that is, but I guess it's similar if you are employed in the US].

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  • I think you mean "invoice" instead of facture
    – jdouglas
    Feb 1 at 15:52
  • @jdouglas True, thanks.
    – PMF
    Feb 1 at 16:21
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    This question is not about what can be billed to your company, but rather what can be deducted from your income taxes as a business expense. If your company is paying for something then you definitely can't deduct it from your income taxes. In general, you can't deduct a trip in the U.S. unless it was at least 50% for business purposes and you paid the expense. The IRS is quite strict about this, as lots of business owners get the idea that they can try to make their vacations tax deductible (saving them potentially thousands in taxes.)
    – reirab
    Feb 1 at 17:15
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    This question in general will mostly just be applicable to business owners. Non-owner employees generally will not be able to deduct travel expenses from their taxes at all, though their employer normally pays for expenses related to doing their business.
    – reirab
    Feb 1 at 17:18
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    (For those not familiar with U.S. income taxes, "deductible" means that the expense in question can be subtracted from your taxable income. For example, if you have $100,000 of income, but you have $20,000 of deductible expenses, then you will only be taxed on $80,000 of income.)
    – reirab
    Feb 1 at 17:24

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