Topic 512 - Business Entertainment Expenses

Entertainment expenses that are both ordinary and necessary in carrying on a trade or business may be deductible if they meet one of the two tests:

  • The directly-related test, or
  • The associated test

See Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses, for more detailed information about these two tests.

You must have records to prove the business purpose (under the applicable test) and the amount of each expense, the date and place of the entertainment, and the business relationship of the persons entertained. For information on recordkeeping, refer to Topic 305.

Generally, only 50% of business-related meal and entertainment expenses are allowed as a deduction. For exceptions to the 50% limitation, refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.

If you are an employee whose deductible business entertainment expenses are fully substantiated and reimbursed under an accountable plan, the employer should not include the reimbursement in your wages on Form W-2 (PDF), Wage and Tax Statement, and you should not deduct the expenses. If your expenses exceed the reimbursement you received under an accountable plan, if you received reimbursement under a nonaccountable plan, or if you did not receive reimbursement at all, you can use Form 2106 (PDF), Employee Business Expenses, or Form 2106-EZ (PDF), Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses, to deduct employee business entertainment expenses that otherwise qualify as deductible expenses. Carry these expenses over to Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions, where they are generally subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income limit. Refer to Topic 508 for more information on the 2% limit, Topic 305 for more information on recordkeeping requirements and Publication 463 for a definition of accountable and nonaccountable plans.

If you are self-employed, use Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), Profit or Loss From Business, or Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF), Net Profit From Business, or if you are a farmer, use Form 1040, Schedule F (PDF), Profit or Loss From Farming, to deduct these expenses.

For more information on deductible and nondeductible meal and entertainment expenses, refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: January 14, 2015