For many business owners and self-employed individuals, understanding what can and cannot be claimed as a tax deduction is crucial for minimizing their tax liability. One common question that arises is whether you can write off meals as a business expense on your taxes. In this blog, we’ll delve into the rules and regulations surrounding deducting meal expenses, helping you navigate the complexities of business tax deductions.

1. Business-Related Meal Expenses

In general, the IRS allows you to deduct business-related meal expenses, but there are specific conditions and limitations. To qualify for a deduction, the meal must meet the following criteria:

  • Ordinary and Necessary: The meal should be ordinary and necessary for your trade or business. It should be a common practice within your industry or occupation.
  • Directly Related: The meal should have a clear and substantial business purpose, such as discussing a specific business proposal, networking with clients, or conducting a meeting related to your business.

2. Deductible Percentage

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which came into effect in 2018, made significant changes to meal expense deductions. Under current regulations, you can generally deduct up to 50% of the cost of qualifying business meals. This means that only half of the total cost can be written off as a tax deduction.

3. Entertainment Expenses

Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, entertainment expenses that included meals could often be fully deducted. However, the Act eliminated the deduction for most entertainment expenses. While you can still deduct meal expenses if they are directly related to your business, be aware that any entertainment elements included with the meal may not be deductible.

4. Substantiation and Record-Keeping

Maintaining proper documentation is essential for successfully claiming meal expenses as deductions. This includes keeping detailed records of:

  • Date and time of the meal
  • Location
  • Business purpose
  • Attendees
  • Total cost

Proper record-keeping helps support your deduction in case of an audit.

5. Employee Meals and Office Snacks

If you provide meals to your employees as part of their compensation or for the convenience of your business, these expenses can be deductible. For example, if you have an on-site cafeteria or provide snacks for your team, you can often deduct the costs associated with these employee benefits.

6. Self-Employed Individuals

Self-employed individuals can also deduct business meal expenses when they are directly related to their business. This includes meals when traveling for business or when conducting meetings with clients or customers.


In summary, you can write off meals as business expenses on your taxes, but certain conditions and limitations apply. Understanding the rules and maintaining thorough documentation is critical for a successful deduction.

Navigating the ever-changing tax landscape can be challenging, which is why it’s often beneficial to seek professional advice. At Goldin Group CPAs, we have a team of experts well-versed in tax regulations and deductions. We can provide personalized guidance to help you make the most of your business-related meal expenses and ensure you are in compliance with IRS regulations.

If you have questions or need assistance with your tax planning and deductions, contact Goldin Group CPAs today. We’re here to help you make the most of your business-related tax deductions while staying in compliance with current tax laws.