If you are a business owner who is accustomed to treating clients to sporting events, golf getaways, concerts, and the like, we have some bad news for you. The GOP’s tax-reform bill that President Trump signed on December 22nd of last year eliminated the business-related deduction for entertainment, amusement, or recreation expenses, effective beginning in 2018.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still entertain your clients; it just means you can no longer deduct 50% of the cost of that entertainment as a business expense, making it more costly for you to entertain clients.
However, the Act does retain a deduction for business meals that are directly related to, or associated with the active conduct of your business. The term “directly related” means that actual business discussions were conducted during the meal and you anticipated a specific business benefit from the meal. The term “associated with” is more liberal and includes meals either preceding or following a bona fide business discussion. In either case, the business deduction continues to be 50% of the actual expense. Also, remember that business meals must be documented, including the amount, business purpose, date, time, place, and names of the guests, as well as their business relationship with you.
That’s not all! In the past, employers have been accustomed to deducting 100% of the cost of food and beverages provided to employees at or near the place of business. That too has changed, and the Act now subjects food and beverages supplied to employees to the 50% limitation. However, that deduction is only allowed through 2025. As of 2026, employers’ costs for food and beverages furnished to employees will not be deductible.
Meals while traveling out of town on business continue to be deductible and are subject to the 50% limitation.
If you have questions related to entertainment and meal expenses, please contact the experts at Henssler Financial: