Deducting the Costs of a Spouse on a Business Trip

Deducting the Costs of a Spouse on a Business Trip

06/18/2018 Tags: Announcements, In the News

If you've ever considered deducting your spouse's travel costs during a business trip, be careful.

The rules for deducting those costs are pretty restrictive.

To qualify for deductions, your spouse must be your employee. In other words, you can't deduct your significant other's travel costs — even if their presence is for a legitimate business purpose — unless the person you're married to is an actual employee of your business.

So, that requirement prevents your ability to deduct those travel costs in most cases.

If your spouse is your employee, you can deduct their travel costs if their presence is for a genuine business purpose. But just having your spouse perform some incidental business service — like typing up notes from a meeting — is not enough to establish a business purpose. It's also not enough if their being with you on the trip is "helpful" to your business; it must be "necessary."

In most cases, if your spouse takes part in social functions, even as host or hostess, it's still not enough to establish a business purpose. So, if you brought your husband or wife along to create some goodwill with customers or associates, it's still insufficient.

And there's still more. If there's a vacation element to the trip — e.g., your spouse will be spending time sightseeing, etc. — establishing a business purpose will be even more difficult.

However, if you need your husband or wife to come with you to help you take care of a serious medial condition you have, that's considered an actual business purpose.

If your spouse's travel satisfies these tests, you can claim the normal deductions for business travel away from home. These include the costs of transportation, meals, lodging, and incidental costs such as dry cleaning, phone calls, etc.

Even if your spouse's travel doesn't meet the requirements, you might still be able to deduct a big chunk of the trip's costs. The rules don't require you to allocate 50% of your travel costs to your spouse. You need only allocate any additional costs you incur for your spouse.

For example, in many hotels, the cost of a single room is not that much lower than the cost of a double. If a single would cost $150 a night and a double would cost $200, you wouldn't be able to claim the additional $50. If you drive your own car or rent a vehicle, the cost will be fully deductible even if your spouse is along. But any separate costs your husband or wife incurs for public transportation and meals aren't deductible.

If you have questions about what does and doesn't qualify as a business expense, let us know!

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