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Mastering Business Travel Expense Documentation: Your Ultimate Guide

How can I write off new business travel?


Business travel can be both exciting and essential for growing your business. However, navigating the complex world of expense documentation can be a daunting task. Whether you're a corporation owner or operate as a sole proprietorship, understanding the rules and best practices for proving expenses is crucial. In this blog, we'll address 12 key questions about proving expenses for business travel, providing you with actionable insights to help you stay organized, compliant, and boost your online visibility.

12 Questions:

Q&A 1: Corporation or Proprietorship?

Question: Are the business travel documentation rules different if I operate my business as a corporation versus as a proprietorship?

Answer: Yes and no.

When it comes to deductions for lodging, meals, and travel expenses, the rules are consistent regardless of your business structure. However, if you're a corporation owner, you are a separate entity from your business. To optimize tax benefits, it's advisable to have the corporation reimburse you for travel expenses or directly cover them. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has also impacted deductions for employee business expenses, making reimbursement or direct payment by the corporation crucial for tax benefits and financial optimization.

Q&A 2: Do I Have to Keep a Tax Diary for My Business Travel?

You might wonder whether maintaining a tax diary is necessary for your business travel. While it's not mandatory, timely and accurate records are essential to prove the following elements:

1. Amount: Record expenditure details like transportation, lodging, and meals.

2. Time: Note departure and return dates, along with the number of business days.

3. Place: Clearly identify the travel destination by city or town.

4. Business Purpose: Document the business reason or expected benefit derived from the trip.

Q&A 3: Is There an Easy Way to Keep a Tax Diary?

Absolutely! Consider using the Tax Diary System, which captures all necessary elements for IRS compliance. While numerous smartphone apps are available for this purpose, the Tax Diary System ensures you capture every expense and required information for seamless documentation, making your business travel expense management more efficient and search engine-friendly.

Q&A 4: Why Are Travel Meals Separated from Other Travel Expenses?

Legislators have implemented a 50% deduction cut for travel meals due to their skepticism. This means you'll need to enter only half the total meal expenses as deductions on your tax return, with the other half considered as an adjustment.

Q&A 5: Do I Need Receipts?

The answer is both yes and no! Receipts, bills, or documentary evidence are necessary to prove:

- All lodging expenses

- Other travel expenses over $75 (except transportation) when a receipt is readily available

Q&A 6: What Is a Receipt?

Receipts serve as evidence of the amount, date, place, and nature of expenditures. For instance, a hotel receipt should include the hotel's name, location, date, and separate amounts for lodging, meals, and telephone charges.

Q&A 7: Credit Card Statement and Canceled Checks

Your credit card statement is akin to a canceled check – it confirms payment, not the items purchased. To substantiate travel expenditures, both the receipt (proof of purchase) and the canceled check or credit card statement (proof of payment) are required.

Q&A 8: What Is a Timely Kept Record?

Recording activities weekly or more frequently meets IRS criteria for a timely kept record. This ensures that you capture expenses as they occur and enhances compliance with IRS regulations, while also improving your website's search engine ranking with fresh and updated content.

Q&A 9: $75 Rule Allows Cheating

While receipts aren't required for expenses under $75 (excluding lodging), the IRS can cross-reference the source of the cash used for payment, such as ATM withdrawals or check cashing.

Q&A 10: Should I Keep Receipts If the Expense Is Under $75?

Yes, retaining receipts is recommended regardless of the expense amount. Receipts provide solid proof, ensuring meticulous record-keeping and minimizing potential discrepancies, which can also positively impact your website's user experience and credibility.

Q&A 11: What Are Travel Expenses?

Travel expenses encompass costs associated with reaching and staying at the business destination. Examples include transportation, lodging, meals, baggage fees, communication expenses, and more, all of which contribute to a comprehensive guide that attracts both readers and search engine algorithms.

Q&A 12: Submitting Travel Expenses to Your Corporation

If your business is a corporation, remember that it's distinct from you legally. Due to tax law changes, personal deductions for employee business expenses are not allowed. To ensure reimbursement, submit expenses under an "accountable plan," supported by receipts and proper documentation. This approach not only maintains financial compliance but also demonstrates your commitment to transparency and professionalism.


Navigating the world of business travel expenses might seem complex, but with the right understanding and practices, you can streamline the process. By keeping accurate records, adhering to IRS requirements, and understanding the nuances of reimbursement for different business structures, you'll be well-equipped to master the art of documenting expenses for business travel while enhancing your online presence through relevant and targeted keywords.

You can reach our CEO and founder Peter Ellefson anytime at

Disclaimer: Laws and regulations are subject to change, and readers are advised to consult EPL advisors for personalized advice and compliance with specific state requirements. This information is not specific advice and is meant for general education.


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