What about eating at your desk?

In a word:  NO!

Remember that pb&j that you slapped together at home this morning and then stashed in your bottom drawer?  You don’t get to take that as a business expense, so why would anyone think it counts if you have a deli sandwich delivered in the middle of the day?

Well, actually there is a precedent.  Let’s say there’s a big project, and the boss is worried about the deadline.  The boss just might spring for Chinese to encourage the team to stay late.  This counts!  Check it out –

  1. There’s a business purpose! The boss is encouraging the team to work late because it’s faster to let everyone take 20 minutes to wolf down the take out than to send them all out to scrounge for independent meals.  Distractions are fewer, so the collective mindset is more likely to stay on the project.  And the boss is probably watching.
  1. There’s a group! The person picking up the tab is not the only person enjoying the food.

There’s also a special perk for this arrangement:  the food is 100% deductible.  That’s right!  No 50% disallowance when the purpose of the meal is to facilitate the work.

When can you take advantage of this ploy?

First, you need a business purpose.  In an effort to lure the team in on Saturday morning, you supply breakfast bagel sandwiches and fresh fruit.  There is an in-house yearend planning meeting the first Friday in November, and it’s catered.  You are working feverishly to finish an installation at the client location, so you order a couple pizzas from the restaurant next door.

Second, you need other people!  You must have someone else eating with you!  This could be your team, your staff, the hard working accounting department (hint hint), all the people on the Big Project, etc.  It could be a mix of your people and client people.

So, once again, NO, you can’t just share an order of fries with some random coworker in order to write off your daily cheesesteak supreme.  And you can sit at your desk and work 24 hours straight, but you still can’t write off what you eat.  But if you feed the masses, it’s probably fine.

The moral of the story is: Be Generous!  Feed people!