Quickbooks and per diem rates?

Discussion in 'Quickbooks' started by Steve, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Steve

    Steve Guest

    I travel around the USA a great deal for business and am looking to deduct my own personal meals and other personal travel expenses (not cabs and airfares and such; I can bill for those) by deducting the official per diem rate, which is different for each city (currently about $64 a day for big cities) and probably changes year-to-year as well. Question is, does any version of quickbooks have a facility for making this easy? Is this plan a reasonable one? I want to be able to tell it, "I was in Los Angeles from this date to this date" and have it do the rest.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
    Steve, Aug 4, 2008
    #1
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  2. "Steve" <> wrote in message news:48972e98$0$20919$...
    I travel around the USA a great deal for business and am looking to deduct my own personal meals and other personal travel expenses (not cabs and airfares and such; I can bill for those) by deducting the official per diem rate, which is different for each city (currently about $64 a day for big cities) and probably changes year-to-year as well.

    Question is, does any version of quickbooks have a facility for making this easy?

    No current version has this feature

    Is this plan a reasonable one?

    Reasonable yes, but if there is a list kept by Intuit for new features I would hope and also assume that this would be at the very bottom of the list.



    I want to be able to tell it, "I was in Los Angeles from this date to this date" and have it do the rest.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
    Haskel LaPort, Aug 4, 2008
    #2
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  3. Steve

    dpb Guest

    Steve wrote:
    > I travel around the USA a great deal for business and am looking to

    deduct my own personal meals and other personal travel expenses (not
    cabs and airfares and such; I can bill for those) by deducting the
    official per diem rate, which is different for each city (currently
    about $64 a day for big cities) and probably changes year-to-year as
    well. Question is, does any version of quickbooks have a facility for
    making this easy? Is this plan a reasonable one? I want to be able to
    tell it, "I was in Los Angeles from this date to this date" and have it
    do the rest.

    I did that via Excel and transferred the data from there. You can
    download an Excel spreadsheet of the CONUS data from the GSA web site.

    I suppose there probably are some addins written using the QB API but
    unless the travel is really extremely extensive it shouldn't require
    much effort the spreadsheet way.

    I would not there's a problem w/ deducting personal meals and expenses
    as they aren't business expenses--unless there's another meaning
    intended w/ the word "personal" here.

    If they are indeed business-qualified meals and expenses, then I would
    think you should be able to bill them as well. That would probably be
    better anyway as generally meals are limited to 50% deduction whereas if
    you could get reimbursement that would be actual cost (altho I'd expect
    any client to expect only actuals as opposed to CONUS per diem then).

    Might check on the IRS Publication 463 for details on business travel
    deductions.

    Part of what it contains includes --

    50% limit on meals. You can figure your meals expense using either of
    the following methods.
    * Actual cost.
    * The standard meal allowance.
    ....But, regardless of the method you use, you generally can deduct only
    50% of the unreimbursed cost of your meals.

    If you are reimbursed for the cost of your meals, how you apply the
    50% limit depends on whether your employer's reimbursement plan was
    accountable or nonaccountable. ...

    Actual Cost
    You can use the actual cost of your meals to figure the amount of your
    expense before reimbursement and application of the 50% deduction limit.
    If you use this method, you must keep records of your actual cost.

    Standard Meal Allowance
    Generally, you can use the “standard meal allowance” method as an
    alternative to the actual cost method. It allows you to use a set amount
    for your daily meals and incidental expenses (M&IE), ...
    ....
    Caution
    There is no optional standard lodging amount similar to the standard
    meal allowance. Your allowable lodging expense deduction is your actual
    cost.


    --
     
    dpb, Aug 4, 2008
    #3
  4. Steve

    MikeD27 Guest

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    MikeD27, Aug 4, 2008
    #4
  5. Steve

    Steve Guest

    dpb:

    thanks for your input.

    Regarding "personal meals", what I mean is:
    - I am on the road, working for my client
    - I gotta eat, and find myself at a hotel.
    - I bill a per diem for this and generally need to spend it all on hotel
    food.
    From what I see in IRS Publication 463 it looks like the standard meal
    allowance is the best method for deducting these costs. Most places I go
    allow for $64 a day.

    I will look for that excel sheet you mentioned. When you say you use it to
    track meal allowances and "transfer the data from there", onto which form
    and line do you transfer it to? It does not fall under either 50% or 100%
    deductible meals. And, do you send along a copy of the excel sheet to
    document it all?

    Thanks much,
    Steve

    "dpb" <> wrote in message news:g77m2s$kbi$...
    > Steve wrote:
    >> I travel around the USA a great deal for business and am looking to

    > deduct my own personal meals and other personal travel expenses (not
    > cabs and airfares and such; I can bill for those) by deducting the
    > official per diem rate, which is different for each city (currently
    > about $64 a day for big cities) and probably changes year-to-year as
    > well. Question is, does any version of quickbooks have a facility for
    > making this easy? Is this plan a reasonable one? I want to be able to
    > tell it, "I was in Los Angeles from this date to this date" and have it
    > do the rest.
    >
    > I did that via Excel and transferred the data from there. You can
    > download an Excel spreadsheet of the CONUS data from the GSA web site.
    >
    > I suppose there probably are some addins written using the QB API but
    > unless the travel is really extremely extensive it shouldn't require much
    > effort the spreadsheet way.
    >
    > I would not there's a problem w/ deducting personal meals and expenses as
    > they aren't business expenses--unless there's another meaning intended w/
    > the word "personal" here.
    >
    > If they are indeed business-qualified meals and expenses, then I would
    > think you should be able to bill them as well. That would probably be
    > better anyway as generally meals are limited to 50% deduction whereas if
    > you could get reimbursement that would be actual cost (altho I'd expect
    > any client to expect only actuals as opposed to CONUS per diem then).
    >
    > Might check on the IRS Publication 463 for details on business travel
    > deductions.
    >
    > Part of what it contains includes --
    >
    > 50% limit on meals. You can figure your meals expense using either of
    > the following methods.
    > * Actual cost.
    > * The standard meal allowance.
    > ...But, regardless of the method you use, you generally can deduct only
    > 50% of the unreimbursed cost of your meals.
    >
    > If you are reimbursed for the cost of your meals, how you apply the 50%
    > limit depends on whether your employer's reimbursement plan was
    > accountable or nonaccountable. ...
    >
    > Actual Cost
    > You can use the actual cost of your meals to figure the amount of your
    > expense before reimbursement and application of the 50% deduction limit.
    > If you use this method, you must keep records of your actual cost.
    >
    > Standard Meal Allowance
    > Generally, you can use the “standard meal allowance” method as an
    > alternative to the actual cost method. It allows you to use a set amount
    > for your daily meals and incidental expenses (M&IE), ...
    > ...
    > Caution
    > There is no optional standard lodging amount similar to the standard meal
    > allowance. Your allowable lodging expense deduction is your actual cost.
    >
    >
    > --
     
    Steve, Aug 7, 2008
    #5
  6. Steve

    dpb Guest

    Steve wrote:
    ....
    > Regarding "personal meals", what I mean is:
    > - I am on the road, working for my client
    > - I gotta eat, and find myself at a hotel.
    > - I bill a per diem for this and generally need to spend it all on hotel
    > food.
    > From what I see in IRS Publication 463 it looks like the standard meal
    > allowance is the best method for deducting these costs. Most places I go
    > allow for $64 a day.
    >
    > I will look for that excel sheet you mentioned. When you say you use it to
    > track meal allowances and "transfer the data from there", onto which form
    > and line do you transfer it to? It does not fall under either 50% or 100%
    > deductible meals. And, do you send along a copy of the excel sheet to
    > document it all?

    ....

    That, then, is a business meal, not personal. (Figured was what you
    meant, but also figured it was worth checking/mentioning.)

    Is this a QB question or a tax question? There isn't a form/line to
    transfer to in QB, it is a reimbursable business expense that has a
    business travel/meals expense tax code. Where it goes depends on what
    form your business entity is for which form is filed.

    As for documentation, check the IRS pubs for their requirements; your
    client may require more or less be submitted w/ invoices. Most of my
    clients paid actuals, not per diem rates (which could be good in some
    areas if CONUS wasn't adequate, a wash elsewhere). Most clients in my
    experience don't much appreciate thinking you're using CONUS rules on
    per diem as a subterfuge to bill them additional profit (which, reading
    between the lines is what I'm getting out of your "best method" wording).

    In my case, I keep detail documentation on file but only invoice totals.
    I do add an "overhead and administration" percentage on all such
    incidentals to cover the admin and billing costs, etc.; for professional
    services I believe most private sector clients will expect that and find
    it more palatable than the per diem. But, that is a choice you have to
    make as to which is better for your particular situation and client base.

    I didn't go to the trouble of making the spreadsheet automagically
    generate an import file but it would be relatively simple to do so so
    that one wouldn't have to manually enter the entries. What I did do was
    to use the CONUS spreadsheet as the data base and did implement the
    lookup and calculations and integrated those w/ the other daily expenses
    and entered them as a lump sum rather than inputting every transaction
    individually into QB.

    Hope that helps...

    --
     
    dpb, Aug 7, 2008
    #6
  7. Steve

    dpb Guest

    dpb wrote:
    ....
    > and entered them as a lump sum rather than inputting every transaction
    > individually into QB.


    I'll note that worked painlessly because all travel expenses were
    accumulated on a specific credit card used only for the purpose of
    travel so partial sums for various travel subaccounts were adequate for
    proper billing and tracking costs.

    --
     
    dpb, Aug 7, 2008
    #7
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