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09/04/2012

Tax-Deductible Travel Ideas

If you�re planning a late summer vacation there are ways you may be able to use the tax code to help subsidize that summer trip to some popular tourist haven. Here are some possibilities:

Mixing vacation with business. One ticket to tax-deductible travel is to tack some vacation onto a business trip you�re scheduled to take this year.

If the primary purpose of your trip is business, you can deduct the cost of getting to and from your destination. For example, say you have a five-day professional convention in Honolulu this summer and you plan to stay an extra few days to lie on the beach and sample the sea breezes.

You could deduct 100% of your round-trip airfare to Hawaii. There is no need to prorate the costs based on the proportion of time you spent vacationing.

In contrast, food and lodging costs usually must be prorated � only those attributable to your five-day business convention would be deductible. There are, however, a couple of situations where you can deduct living expenses for your vacation days. In you have business to conduct on a Friday and Monday, you can deduct food and lodging for the Saturday and Sunday in between, even if you spend the entire weekend sightseeing.

Family travel. Taking your family on a deductible trip won�t diminish your write-offs. The IRS allows you to deduct whatever it would have cost you to travel alone. So when figuring your deduction for lodging, you can deduct the single-occupancy rate for your room, which will usually be just slightly less than the double-occupancy rate you actually pay for you and your family.

If you drive to your destination, you can deduct the full cost of your round-trip transportation, because you would incur the same cost traveling alone in the car. Of course, if you�re traveling by plane or train, only your fare is deductible.

Summer school. Professional seminars offer another chance for deductible travel. Continuing-education courses and seminars for doctors, lawyers and other professionals are often held in popular tourist areas. Travel costs are deductible if the education is needed to maintain or upgrade skills in your job, and if education is the main purpose of your trip.

Charitable trips. Volunteer charity work can also lead to deductible travel opportunities. Travel to an out-of-town convention of a charitable or religious organization can be deductible � but only if you�re an official delegate to the convention. If you�re performing charitable work away from home, you may be able to deduct the travel costs. For example, scoutmasters who take Boy Scout troops on summer camping trips can deduct travel expenses as a charitable contribution.

Investment trips. If you own an out-of-town rental property, you can deduct trips to look after your investment. But be prepared to prove that the primary purpose of your trip was to manage or work on the property � not to just vacation there.



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