Business trips: This is how to claim back your meals as a per diem expense (Verpflegungsmehraufwand)

In most professions, it's common practice to travel and meet business partners outside of the office. The resulting expenses are often borne and covered by the employer. However, this does not always cover the total cost of accommodation and meals during a trip. There's no reason to panic, however, because there is one simple solution: a meal per diem. We'll explain what this is in this article.

Expenses on a business trip

Subsistence costs incurred during a business trip can be deducted from a tax return. There is also a meal-based per diem to take into account. However, these require that an employee is on the road for at least 8 hours a day (as a full working day). Usually, employers cover all costs incurred during a business trip. As a general rule, the cost of a meal and overnight accommodation are paid by the employer. If this is not the case, some of the expenses incurred can be recovered with an income tax return.

How much is a per diem meal expense?

On average, 12 Euros per day can be claimed for tax purposes. This is only if the maximum 8 hourly working day is met during a trip. In each case, 12 Euros will be charged for both your arrival and departure during a trip. It doesn't matter how long the business trip itinerary is. If you travel over 24 hours on behalf of your employer, you can receive upwards of 24 Euros in meal per diems.

Per diem expenses at a glance

  • Arrival and departure allowance = 12 euros
  • Stay longer than eight hours = 12 euros
  • Undertake a 24 hour business stay = 24 euros

Note: If you work in a company that covers the expenses for all meals on a trip, you can make use of pre-made forms when submitting any and all travel expenses to your supervisor(s).

What to pay attention to with per diem meal expenses

Per diem meal allowances can only be claimed in the first three months of a business trip. However, if the outward activities are interrupted for a four week period or longer, the per diem lump sum can once again be claimed. It's also good to know that both paid vacations and sick leave periods count toward this interruption, allowing you to make expense claims once again on business trips following an absence.

The situation works differently when costs arise directly within a business trip itself. These include, for instance, trip expenses, overnight stays and travel expenses, among other costs like fuel and mileage. These are ultimately unlimited in terms of their timescale and are also tax-deductible.

Summary of per diem and additional subsistence overheads

There is a flat rate for travellers working between 8 to 24 hours out of the office, or for their arrival and departure periods on multi-day business trips. Further flat rates apply for all-day absences of 24 hours on multi-day business trips. Respective calendar days are considered within the calculation of additional subsistence and per diem expenses. Actual meals eaten will not necessarily be taken into account. Subsistence meal expenses are limited to a three month period.

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