“Say dog.” My dad once told me that a friend paid for his lunch and said, “Say dog, then I can write this off.” She bred show dogs. File that under “nope.” That is not how the meals and entertainment (M&E) deduction works. Not even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed the rules.
The deduction for M&E is a favorite of many of our clients and rightfully so. Nevertheless, it can be a fraught area if taxpayers and their advisors don’t have a comprehensive understanding of how the rules for deducting expenses apply across the many different scenarios in which our clients are likely to apply them. The IRS issued the final regulations for deducting M&E expenses under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 274 on October 9, 2020. It made some additional, short-term adjustments when the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) became law on December 27, 2020. Here is an overview of the new regulations, how to use them to your clients’ benefit, and how to avoid the most common pitfalls.