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Changes to Fringe Benefits, Entertainment Expenses

  • April 18, 2018 by hamiltontharp
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The tax reform legislation that Congress signed into law on December 22, 2017, was the largest change to the tax system in over 3 decades. The new tax code contains many provisions that will affect individual, estate, and corporate taxpayers. One of those changes, the elimination of a business-related deduction used for entertainment, amusement or recreation expenses, will make it costlier for business owners to entertain clients.

Previously, if an entertainment or meal expense was related to or associated with the active conduct of a trade or business, it was deductible up to 50 percent. Under the new tax code, these expenses are now considered the cost of doing business. In the chart below, we have highlighted the major changes.

 

Activity 2017 Old Rules 2018 New Rules
Qualified client meal expenses 50% deductible 50% deductible
Qualified employee meal expenses 50% deductible 50% deductible
Meals provided for employer convenience 100% deductible 50% deductible
Client entertainment expenses

Event tickets

Qualified charitable events

50% deductible

50% deductible at face value

100% deductible

No deduction for entertainment expenses
Office holiday parties 100% deductible 100% deductible

 

The elimination of this deduction will impact business owners who are accustomed to treating clients to golf outings or providing clients with tickets to sporting events or concerts. Businesses will have to re-evaluate their entertainment expenses related to their trade or business, as these items are no longer 50 percent deductible.

In consideration of the elimination of this deduction, we recommend creating separate accounts for meals and entertainment expenses. Educating employees to separate their expenses will be vital as business meals will remain 50 percent deductible until 2025.

Entertainment expenses are notoriously targeted by auditors. Considering the law change, we anticipate these expenses to be a heightened area of concern during an audit. The professionals in our office can help ensure you are in compliance, call us today.

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