Sunday, February 17, 2008

On-the-road Meal Deductions

June --

I've been a newspaper courier for 5 years.

I deliver several different weekly newspapers all in different cities. I use my home as an office. I travel over 500 miles a week and my routes are quite large. I'm on the road for 10 - 12 hours a day 3 days a week. I get very tired from driving that long + lifting bundles. I sometime stop to eat and rest. Would my meals be deductible?

Thank You, Kevin from Kent, Ohio

Hello Kevin,

You don't say whether you stay overnight nor how long you rest. Based on what you've said, your meals are not deductible.

Meals while on the road are deductible if your trip is considered "travel." Travel means you must stay overnight or you must rest to properly perform your duties.

If your trip is considered travel you may deduct all travel expenses and the cost of meals and lodging.

In my book, Self-employed Tax Solutions, all travel and also travel-meal expense is explained in depth. It is an expense topic that has a lot of rules as well as nuances. Here's a Travis Truck Driver example directly from my book:

Travis Truck Driver leaves the terminal at five in the morning. Three hundred miles later he’s at the turnaround. While his truck is being unloaded he has a big lunch and then dozes off outside the diner while waiting for the guys to finish the reloading. He then heads back to the terminal where the truck is again unloaded. He’s home by midnight. Travis’ lunch break nap was just that, “a nap.” It was not enough time to get adequate sleep. His trip is not considered travel. Therefore he cannot deduct travel expenses.


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