Quickbooks and per diem rates?


S

Steve

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
 
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H

Haskel LaPort

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
 
D

dpb

Steve said:
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.


--
 
M

MikeD27

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S

Steve

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
 
D

dpb

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...

--
 
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D

dpb

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.

--
 

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