Can I claim per diem if I work away from home on a monthly basis with my own food?

Can I claim per diem if I work away from home on a monthly basis with my own food?

by Colleen S. Krcelich, CPA | Jan 11, 2018

I work away from home for a month at a time. My work provides a meal, but it’s not a healthy meal. My doctor has me on a special diet. Can I claim per diem expenses since I provide my own food? If so, can I use the standard per diem rate instead of providing receipts?

For Pennsylvania taxes, you can never claim per diem. It has to be actual expenses. I would also expect Pennsylvania to require a letter from the employer stating that they don’t reimburse for any of these expenses. The employer will probably say that it provides meals, so Pennsylvania may disallow the deduction.

As for the IRS, the new tax law does not allow a miscellaneous itemized deduction for employee business expenses as far as I can tell, although I have not read the full bill at the time of answering this question. However, I do believe you could take a deduction in 2017, even though work provides food.

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Answered by: Colleen S. Krcelich, CPA, is an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa. 

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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