Deducting Convention Travel Expenses

This is a quick tax tip inspired by a unique structure in the Portland skyline, which is currently getting pounded with torrential rain.

If you can show that your attendance at a convention benefits your business, you can deduct your travel expenses.  This requirement applies even if you are appointed or elected as a delegate of an organization.

  • Make sure you keep the agenda or program materials from the convention, as these documents are the best evidence to show that the convention is connected to your business.
  • Avoid conventions that are for investment, political, social, or other purposes unrelated to your business, as you cannot deduct expenses for these events.
  • Finally, you might want to think twice about a foreign convention, as the IRS has a four-point reasonableness test to judge deductions for conventions outside the North American area.  Be prepared to provide a lot of detail on the purpose of the event and activities, the sponsoring organization and the residences of active members in the organization in order to prove that the convention location was reasonable.

Lastly, if you receive a shiny brochure trying to sell you on a convention or seminar on a cruise ship, just throw it away.  Cruise ship deductions are limited to $2,000 per year and the IRS has a long list of rules that disqualify many of the good cruises.  Plus, you have to attach two signed documents to your tax return.  Trust me, stick to conventions on dry land and take the cruise for your personal vacation – any tax savings are just not worth the hassle.

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About Brian Germer, CPA

CPA with Parsons and Germer CPAs, LLP in Portland, OR

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