Business Travel Expenses – What to Charge, What not to Charge

Travel expenses can stack up on a business trip – and whether you’re an employee answering to your boss or an entrepreneur answering to the tax man, it’s good to know what’s generally charged to the business expense account, and what’s coming out of your own pocket. Take a look:

Transport: Most transport will be fully deductible – so make sure you ask the taxi driver for a receipt, keep your flight boarding card (and email with itinerary and cost), rental car dockets and gas receipts. This also goes for business travel closer to home – keep proof of all public transport and cab costs incurred. However, travel from your home to your office is never considered a business expense, even if you sit for 45 minutes in rush hour traffic!

Accommodation: Be careful here – the cost of your hotel or furnished apartment is usually reimbursable by your company (or tax deductible if you’re self-employed) but added extras, like pay-per-view movies and minibar are not – if you have indulged, ask reception to separate these charges from the main bill at check out. If someone else joins you in your hotel room for the night – well, that’s your business…!

Food: Food, drinks and entertainment are only partly deductible, so go easy on the champagne. Your company may agree in advance to cover these expenses, but you may have to answer to someone on your return if expensive beverages show up, or you treated yourself to lavish meals three or four times a day. Pay attention when entertaining clients – make a note of who was there and their position, so you can justify the expense later. Your boss may be wary about ‘entertaining’ a company in the future if they brought secretaries and assistants along for the free meal.

Entertainment: This is a tricky one – if you’re hosting a client or potential partner at a concert, sports game, or theatre show, then this is considered an expense and will be partly deductible or paid for by your company. However, if you find yourself with nothing to do in the evening and feel like going out on the town, you’re covering all those costs yourself.

Stay Organised: There are some great business travel apps out there. TripIt is great for keeping track of itineraries and bookings, while Cashbook Expense Tracker and Expense Manager are good tools for recording all financial transactions so you can concentrate on navigating the local trains and setting up productive meetings. Bon Voyage!