Is there any tax advantage to getting my meals at work?
(Revised November 2012)

Generally, the cost of your meals is not deductible, because they are personal in nature. The tax law specifically states that, unless otherwise provided, you cannot deduct the cost of personal expenses. A few of the most common specific exceptions are medical expenses and the interest expense on a principal residence. In a few instances, the courts have carved out special exceptions.

On-Duty Meals -- In a recent Appellate Court decision (Boyd Gaming Corp., et al. v. Commissioner 83 AFTR2d 783) on-premises meals were allowed as a tax deduction to the employer and tax-free income to the employees. In the case, the Casino required the employees to remain on the employer's premises for the entire workday because of security reasons. During the day, the employer provided lunch that could be interrupted if the employees were needed.

In another court decision involving highway patrol officers (Christey v. Commissioner 841 F.2d 809), the officers were able to deduct the cost of their meals while on duty because they were subject to rigid restrictions on how, when, and where they could eat. Also, the officers were often required to interrupt their unfinished meal if there was an emergency or traffic problem.

There are many facts to consider before it can be determined that the activity or expense will meet the 'convenience of employer test.' The closer that you can get your factual situation to fit into an example in the IRS regulations, the better your chances of getting your tax deductions. You would be wise to seek professional advice from us or your personal tax advisor in this area.

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