If I go out to lunch with a friend to pitch my product, can I write off the meal on my taxes?

If I go out to lunch with a friend to pitch my product, can I write off the meal on my taxes?

by Joseph A. Pancerella, CPA | Jan 24, 2018

I own an e-commerce shop. If I go out to lunch with the intention of not only socializing with a friend but also getting him to potentially buy my product, can I write my meal off as a business expense?

Based on your situation, the answer is yes—you can write your meal off as a business expense.

From a general standpoint, you must prove that your meal qualifies for a deduction. The use of reasonable estimates is not sufficient to stand up to an IRS challenge. You must be able to establish the amount spent, the time and place, the business purpose, and the business relationship of the individuals involved. You must set up careful and detailed record-keeping procedures to keep track of each business meal and entertainment event and to justify its business connection. For expenses of $75 or more, documentary proof (receipt, etc.) is required.

For more resources, check out PICPA’s Money & Life Tips, Ask a CPA, or CPA Locator.

Answered by:  Joseph A. Pancerella, CPA, is managing director of Pancerella & Associates LLC in Reading, 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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