You can travel for business, retaining your business travel deductions as well as personally enjoy your trip, even extending it for pleasure. Does this sound too good to be true? Well you will be surprise to know that many frequent business travelers have found ingenious ways of cramming some personal enjoyment in a trip without angering their companies or the IRS. Here is how.
Know the Tricks of the Trade
Like anything else in life there are a few simple tricks that go a long way to making something work. Knowing that hotels and plane tickets cost more on certain days of the week than others, can help you plan out personal vacation days before or after your company trip.
A great suggestion is to enjoy less expensive attractions on the weekend if your business occurs during the week.
Keep Detailed Records
When it comes to tax time and to avoid any questioning of your commitment to your employer, keep detailed records of your time and travel. Keep all receipts digitally with the help of a scanner, which is an excellent tool. Remember many companies will pay for things up front and then others must be reimbursed, such as meals. Having receipts or documentation of these expenses can be the difference between receiving reimbursed in full or not at all.
Help your employer understand the advantages
A great way to add personal travel on the back of your business trip is to help your employer understand the advantages of doing such a thing. Maybe instead of flying home Thursday, you could stay an extra day and try to network, meeting with local clients on Friday. The rest of the weekend could be yours as personal time for exploring as you see fit.
Employers love when their employees show initiative going above and beyond what is expected. If you manage to show them how a change of plans can also save the company money, perhaps flying on a different day, they are more likely to entertain you mixing business with pleasure too.
Taxes and Finances
Making sure business and personal expenses are on two different credit cards, is just one way to ensure proper separation of differing expenses. It is also important to have a strong understanding of IRS laws surrounding business deductions. Meals are usually deductible. However, if your trip is mostly personal all your travel expenses may be no longer deductible.
It is also advisable to have some sort of tracking system that can help you reconcile expenses, so you do not lose deductions or tax credits. Mint or an accounting program like Quicken can help with this task and even compile the information directly from your linked accounts.
Honesty is the best policy
It is important to be open and honest with your employer about your travel plans. If they catch you blurring the line between company and personal time they may restrict your business travel in the future. The longer one works for a company the more leeway they generally obtain from an employer. If your work does not suffer, either at home or abroad, there may be little reason for them to object.
Traveling while holding a full time job can be difficult in today’s hectic and busy world. Traveling for work may provide an excuse for you to add some personal travel while away for home. If you follow a few simple rules and a little common sense, you can mix your personal travel with your business travel.
It is important to diligently track your personal and business expenses while traveling. It will also make your life easier if you help your employer understand how combining these two types of travel will save them money, not affect your productivity, and is a win-win for all involved.