Simplified Per-diem Increase for Business Travel

The following is a summary of an important tax development that has occurred in the past three months that may affect you, your family, your investments, and your livelihood. Please call us for more information about any of these developments and what steps you should implement to take advantage of favorable developments and to minimize the impact of those that are unfavorable.

Simplified per-diem increase for post-Sept. 30, 2016 business travel. An employer may pay a per-diem amount to an employee on business-travel status instead of reimbursing actual substantiated expenses for away-from-home lodging, meal and incidental expenses (M&IE). If the rate paid doesn’t exceed IRS-approved maximums, and the employee provides simplified substantiation, the reimbursement isn’t subject to income- or payroll-tax withholding and isn’t reported on the employee’s Form W-2. In general, the IRS-approved per-diem maximum is the GSA per-diem rate paid by the federal government to its workers on travel status. This rate varies from locality to locality. Instead of using actual per-diems, employers may use a simplified “high-low” per-diem, under which there is one uniform per-diem rate for all “high-cost” areas within the continental U.S. (CONUS), and another per-diem rate for all other areas within CONUS. The IRS has released the “high-low” simplified per-diem rates for post-Sept. 30, 2016, travel. The high-cost area per-diem increases $7 to $282 (consisting of $214 for lodging and $68 for M&IE), and the low-cost area per-diem increases $4 to $189 (consisting of $132 for lodging and $57 for M&IE).