Meals and Entertainment Changes Under Tax Reform

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In general, the new tax Act provides for stricter limits on the deductibility of business meals and entertainment expenses. Under the Act entertainment expenses incurred or paid after December 31, 2017 are nondeductible unless they fall under the specific exceptions in Code Section 274(e). One of those exceptions is for “expenses for recreation, social, or similar activities primarily for the benefit of the taxpayer’s employees, other than highly compensated employees”. (i.e. office holiday parties are still deductible). Business meals provided for the convenience of the employer are now only 50% deductible whereas before the Act they were fully deductible. Barring further action by Congress those meals will be nondeductible after 2025.

Businesses should keep the new rules in mind as they plan their 2018 meals and entertainment budgets. See below for a chart comparing the rules before and after the Act.

 2017 Expenses (Old Rules)2018 Expenses (New Rules)
Office Holiday Parties100% deductible100% deductible
Entertaining Clients50% deductibleMeals - 50% deductible
Event tickets, 50% deductible for face value of ticket;
anything above face value is non- deductible
No deduction for entertainment expenses
Tickets to qualified charitable events are 100% deductibleNo deduction for entertainment expenses
Employee Travel Meals50% deductible50% deductible
100% deductible provided they are excludible from employee
gross income as de minimis fringe benefits; otherwise, 50% deductible
50% deductible
(nondeductible after 2025)
Meals Provided for Convenience of Employer100% deductible provided they are excludible from employees
gross income as de minimis fringe benefits; otherwise, 50% deductible
50% deductible
50% deductible (nondeductible after 2025)


2 Comments on “Meals and Entertainment Changes Under Tax Reform”

  1. So – how do we handle things such as a Chamber of Commerce Sponsorship that includes a few meals? Or a donation for a charitable organization that comes with a table for their dinner/fundraiser? Do we have to have a breakdown of that? If so, I can see this becoming cumbersome. Just wondering.

    1. Hi Sheila, that is a great question and depending on what coast you are on, I highly recommend giving one of our professionals a call. They love to answer questions like this.
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