Beauty school only teaches you so much. It's important to keep to keep up your skills by taking courses, which can often lead to fun travel opportunities. Maybe it feels a little like cheating to be able to go to San Diego and learn the latest balayage techniques while also dipping your toes in the sand. So what's business versus personal and how can you deduct as much as possible?
First, let's talk about the things you can deduct assuming you are performing business activities every day of your trip.
As long as the primary purpose of your trip is for business, your flights are deductible. If you use points, then your cost is zero and there is no deduction. Pro tip: save your points for a fully personal vacation.
Uber, Lyft or taxi
Any transportation you have to take during your trip is also deductible as long as it's for business. This could include traveling between the airport and your hotel or between your hotel and the work location.
Baggage fees are a drag, but at least they're deductible, right? Or just fly Southwest.
Your destination may be close enough to drive. In that case, you can deduct your mileage plus any tolls or parking costs.
Hotel or Airbnb
You have to have a place to sleep, so you can definitely deduct your hotel.
Meals are 50% deductible while traveling.
Beauty pros have a healthy love for tipping! They're deductible on business trips so make sure to do so generously.
If you need an internet connection to work while you're out and about rest easy knowing you can put it on the company card.
Can I Add Some Personal Days Onto a Business Trip?
Ok, now that we've covered what's deductible for business travel, let's chat about what happens when you have some personal days mixed in.
First, what's the real purpose of this trip? If it's really just a personal trip with a business meal mixed in, then that's not going to cut it. I mean, the meal would be deductible, but not the whole trip.
Let's assume you booked a trip fully for business purposes, but wanted to take the weekend to be a tourist. That's totally fine. In that case, your flights are fully deductible because you still would have had to book the flight home, regardless of the extension of your trip. Other expenses like meals, hotel, or rental car are only deductible for the days you were there for business. All other personal days are not deductible.
One fun loophole is if you have to be in a location for both Friday and Monday for work. In that case, since you have to stay the weekend for a business purpose your meals and hotel are deductible. Any personal activities you do during the weekend are still considered personal.
Can I Bring My Spouse On A Business Trip?
You can bring whoever you want, but that doesn't make it deductible. Is your spouse an employee of the business performing services for the business that make their attendance necessary? Great, then that's deductible. Otherwise, it's not. It's also important to remember that if you upgrade to a double bed hotel room because you're bringing family, then you are only allowed to deduct the price of a single bed room.
What Do I Need To Prove the Expenses?
Make sure to keep records. High travel expenses are a red flag for an audit so you need to make sure you can prove all the expenses were for business. Receipts are the first obvious thing you need to keep, but what about expenses that don't have a receipt for, like tipping someone in cash. In that case, you need to have a written log to track the expense that includes the date, amount, and business purpose of the expense.
If you have any questions specific to your situation, make sure to talk to your accountant.