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.