Business or Pleasure

The subject springs to mind because, well, that is what we are in the process of doing right now. My husband, Michael, was offered a one month job with hourly pay that we couldn’t turn down. The client offered to pay for fuel, hotels, and $25/day for food, along with paying for the work to be done. How could we turn that down? We packed our bags and left town for the next month.

We are in an intriguing position because we are subcontracting to his business, rather than simply making a bid for a job. The difference, of course, is that generally as a small business owner, you are expected to pay for your own accommodations, travel, and food, though your bill may reflect accordingly. Still, the basic plot twist remains the same. As a small business owner, you are given more flexibility in your contacts and your hours.

For instance, suppose you legitimately – and I stress legitimately – wanted to expand your business to Hawaii. You needed to go out and make the appropriate contacts (I stress ‘needed’, as well). The opportunity arises in your work schedule for you to stay an extra day or two, or perhaps conduct your business in the daytime and make the most of the evenings (or even, vacation in the daytime and attend various social functions at night). By the same token, I know a man who attended a national conference each year in Las Vegas. He took the opportunity to fly his family there, as well, and made the most of the time away from home.

There is good reason to stress the ‘legitimately’ portion of the statement. As a small business owner, you will be more likely already to attract your friendly neighborhood IRS auditor to your accounts. You want to make sure that all of the numbers come up squeaky clean.

Some things that might pass the muster

  • Flying yourself and your employees on a trip to a conference or meeting of some sort
  • Limited food allowance – the IRS no longer allows you to deduct full meals and sets limits. Make sure you check the updated information
  • Billing long distance calls made to your office
  • Reasonable trips that are necessary to the life and growth of your company

Things that will most likely upset the IRS

  • Listing your wife and your 3 month old child as an employee. If they really are (perhaps your baby models for ads for your company?), make sure that position needs to attend said meeting. If you are using it to shoot more ads and need your baby model, fine. If you’re not, and just want to bring the kids, don’t try to deduct them.
  • Lobster and cavier every night
  • Phone calls made to your parents
  • A trip to Aculpoco in which you talk to one ‘potential client’ briefly at the pool for three minutes