Tax Deductible Conference Attending
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to deduct the costs of attending a conference if you do not receive reimbursement from an employer and it relates to a profession. You can deduct the total eligible costs for the year on a personal income tax return as a miscellaneous deduction. The IRS limits the deductible amount to the portion that exceeds 2 percent of adjusted gross income.
You can deduct the cost of admission to the conference if your employer requires your attendance, or it otherwise relates to your current profession. If not required to attend, the conference must be an ordinary and necessary expense. You meet this requirement if attendance to similar conferences is common practice in your trade or profession. The IRS does not require that the conference be educational in nature; the deduction covers meetings that provide networking or potential future business opportunities.
Long Distance Travel
If the conference is outside your principal work area, you can deduct the travel expenses. These may include the cost of purchasing airline and train tickets, ground transport to and from transportation hubs such as an airport or train station, and taxi or rental car costs to travel between a hotel and the conference once you arrive.
Taxpayers who use a personal vehicle to drive to the conference may deduct related costs. The IRS provides taxpayers with the standard mileage rate methodology for calculating the deduction. This gives a fixed amount you can deduct for each mile driven with a personal vehicle for business purposes. For example, in 2013 the IRS standard mileage rate was 56.5 cents per mile driven. In addition to the mileage rate, you can deduct the cost of tolls.
If you must stay overnight while attending a conference, you can deduct hotel costs. The IRS considers an overnight stay necessary if the travel is so extensive it requires extended rest to participate in the conference. For example, if the conference were 30 miles from the home, absent other extraordinary circumstances, an overnight stay would be unnecessary. Additionally, deductible hotel charges may not be extravagant or luxurious.
Amounts paid for food and reasonable restaurant gratuities while traveling away from home are another deduction. The IRS gives taxpayers two methods to calculate meal costs. It publishes daily per diem rates applicable to various geographic areas that you can use without regard to the amount actually spent. Alternatively, you can keep records of all meals and list the total costs paid. Regardless of the method chosen, the total allowable meal expense gets a further 50 percent deduction. Calculate this reduction before applying the 2 percent adjusted gross income limitation.