Combining Your Vacation and Business Travel to Save on Taxes

A vacation can be quite a high expenditure, yet may be a necessary break for you and your family. As vacations are typically considered a luxury expense, it means that you have to bear all the costs for your vacation with no help or breaks from Uncle Sam. However, with proper tax planning, you can deduct some vacation expenses under business travel. This is common practice is especially popular in the corporate world. Ever wondered why management meetings, corporate strategic meetings, or client entertainment are done in extravagant and lavish hotels?

You need to be careful when deducting the vacation/”business” expenses to ensure that you are within the rules of what the IRS qualifies as permissible costs. Furthermore, besides business travel, you can also deduct expenses for travel that couples as trips in looking for a job. These tips will help you properly plan your trip and maximize on possible “business” deductions:

Job Hunt Travel Expenses

The tax code allows for individuals to deduct travel expenses for travel to look for employment, even if one does not consequently get a job. However, you need to have been searching for a job that is in line with your current occupation. You cannot claim deductions if you are a first-time job searcher or if you are looking for a job outside your current career field. The IRS does not also allow taxpayers to deduct expenses if they have been unemployed for a long time and are looking to get back into the job market, even if their search for a job is within his or her former business or career specialty. The IRS permits deductions for expenses including travel, meals, and lodging accommodations. Therefore, when planning your vacation, you can combine the travel expenses with the expenses accumulated in search of new employment to claim the deductions.

Transportation Costs for Business Travel

Business travel deductions come with several rules that have to be carefully followed. The IRS is aware that a lot of business expenses can be misused to cater to personal expenses. Therefore, this could be a red flag area for IRS audits and therefore, you need to be careful when claiming such deductions. Costs for transportation within the U.S. are allowed if a trip has a business purpose. For international travel, a taxpayer will need to demonstrate that at least 75% of the trip’s purpose was for business to have the costs allowed as a deductible. If not, the taxpayer will need to set aside the business elements of the travel costs from the personal elements. If business travel is on a cruise, then it has to be on a U.S. vessel and the vessel must avoid docking at foreign harbors to be tax deductible. The business expense deductible for a cruise has at a cap of $2,000.00 a year.

Accommodation and Meals for Business Travel

For accommodation and meals, one needs to show that the stay was business-driven. However, you can overstay in your travel destination and enjoy a vacation after the business dealings are done. In such a case, you can only deduct the transport expenses and the expenses incurred during the business period of your trip. You will have to shoulder the full expenses of the extension time, as this is a personal expense. For business meals for yourself and your business associates, the tax code allows for only 50% of the cost to be deductible (you will need to foot the other 50% without a deduction break).

Other Expenses

The IRS also allows the deduction of any other business-related expenses while on your business travel. These expenses include tips, any taxi or car hiring expenses, phone calls, Internet connectivity charges, and laundry. However, the expenses need to be reasonable to avoid unnecessary audits. Furthermore, the IRS can reject deduction claims based on the levels of extravagance. There is a fine balancing that needs to be practiced here to avoid any IRS problems.

Travel with Family

If your business and vacation travel includes your family, you cannot deduct any of the expenses relating only to your family. You can however, deduct any costs that you shared with your family as business expenses. If for example you traveled to your destination for business in your car with your family in tow, then the transport will be an allowable business expense. You can also combine other costs such as car-hire costs and shared accommodations.

Why not combine business with pleasure? If you have the opportunity to travel for business, you can enjoy some new restaurants, hotels, or entertainment spots with your business associates and be able to get some tax relief from Uncle Sam. Or, maybe you can take some “personal time” on the road and do some job hunting on your trip to get some tax breaks.

Why International Business Travellers Need Specialized Travel Insurance Cover

In this work driven world, people are goal-oriented and often financially driven; and sometimes people take for granted the importance of physical safety. Insurance makes security tangible. The insurance industry has delved its hands into various aspects of life, securing animals to kids to education to cars. You name it, insurance can secure it. Insurance has become so important in our everyday life that it’s now considered an imperative need.

The largest group of insurance companies are engaged in the travel insurance business. These insurance companies typically offer specialised policies to business travellers. The policies cover risks associated with international or domestic travel which include accidents, deaths, trip cancellations, lost tickets, damage to properties like car rentals and other concerns related to travelling. Procuring this type of insurance is important because it provides security not only to the traveller but also the employer.

Business travellers, especially those travelling internationally, are people on the go. Their employers are potential policy holders. Business travellers are exposed to more risks. The risk covered by the corporate travel insurance is unique to the business the traveller represents. For example, a business traveller working as a car dealer meets an accident while on a Cessna plane can be compensated by a travel insurance covering the risks of medical expenses while working on the job. In getting a corporate travel insurance policy, it is important to tailor the policy in order to cover all the risks that the business traveller is exposed to in relation to the work he’s involved in. Equity dictates that tailored fit policies are necessary for the safety and security of both the employer and the business travellers because of the basic reason that their travels are considered work; it is but a natural obligation for the employers to compensate and insure them.

Corporate travel insurance differs from the usual holidaymaker insurance because it cover more risks and could be specialised in accordance to the type of business the business traveller represents. For example, if the business traveller is working for mining company, the travel insurance policy can include accidents met while visiting a mining site. Because of this specialisation feature, the premium paid for these corporate travel insurance is higher than the usual travel insurance.

A tailored corporate insurance policy is being offered by various insurance companies. One of the most comprehensive policies is the group business travel insurance. For this type of insurance, it is important that the insured or the policy holder is the employer and the beneficiaries are the employees or group members. As to the requirements, each insurance policy provides for different requirements; basically if the employer can pay the premium and the insurance company is willing to cover the risk then a tailored group business insurance policy can be issued.

People work to earn a living. Often than not their work is the cause of their injuries. It is important for employers as well to prevent lawsuits filed by employees they send for travel. The best and equitable solution is to procure corporate travel insurance.

By And Large, Business Travel Is Not A Pleasurable Experience

Business travel has become so common that a considerable proportion of the corporate world of America is spending more time in airplanes and hotels than on their couches or in their automobiles.

According to a recent estimate, about 40 million adults in the US travel on business at least once a year to a location about 50 miles from home. More than 20 percent of the trips made by African Americans, for instance, are related to their work.

Those who do not need to travel frequently on business consider business travel glamorous and exciting. However, in reality, business travel is often arduous.

It is tough physically, tough on the family, and especially tough on the pockets of businesspersons who do not have the luxury of generous expense accounts to take care of their travel expenses.

In addition, those who travel on business regularly, quickly wise up to the fact that a stress-free and safe journey requires the smooth functioning of a number of interconnected factors, which includes the vagaries of the weather.

According to a study conducted recently, monitoring business travel trends:

- 58 percent of business travel is undertaken for association meetings and conferences,

- 43 percent comprising of business travel made by individuals,

- and 29 percent for corporate meetings.

The study also identified some of the most popular destinations within the US for business travel. They are:

- Washington, D.C.,

- New York,

- Los Angeles/Long Beach,

- Chicago,

- Atlanta,

- Boston,

- Houston,

- Minneapolis-St. Paul,

- Detroit,

- and Dallas.

Irrespective of what the destination is, business travel is seldom an enjoyable experience. Some companies will allow their business travelers the opportunity to enjoy their travel surroundings but this is usually short lived depending on the demands of the trip.

Business travelers, who have to make frequent trips, need special facilities to ease the hassles of traveling. Airlines and hotels are increasing the levels of services they provide in order to meet the growing demands of business travelers:

Usually, business travelers research fares on their own and make their reservations online. According to a survey, it was found that only 32 percent of corporate travelers used the services of travel agents for their reservation needs, while the rest, 68 percent, preferred using the internet or online services to plan at least some part of their business traveling arrangements.

Business travelers are usually technologically conversant; hence, choose to handle all their traveling arrangements through the Internet, limiting the necessity of having to interact with travel agents and professionals dealing with customer service.

Most tourism related sites offer one-stop travel facilities for reservations of flights, booking rooms in hotels, and providing transportation on the ground.

Major airlines like Delta and American have included travel-friendly features like locating cheap fares, finding economical hotel accommodation, and hiring cars on a rental basis inexpensively on their websites.

Travelers, thus, can make arrangements for an entire business trip, which includes seating preferences, confirming special food requests, and a text message or e-mail verifying their flight status and information about the departure timings with a few clicks of the mouse button.
Most of these sites provide boarding passes that can be printed out and online check-ins within 24 hours of the departure of the flight.

At the airport, those travelers in a hurry can take advantage of check-in kiosks in order not to have to wait in long lines, and get their boarding passes and their seating information.

Frequent Flyer Miles, Automatic Upgrades, and Comfortable Seating:

One of the biggest perks of traveling frequently on business is the facility of accumulating points, which can be exchanged for vacations. Travelers, therefore, are always on the look out for hotels offering generous points facilities.

Frequent air travelers also favor automatic upgrades and comfort inside the airplane, such as generous legroom and additional storage facilities overhead. Business traveler programs like EliteAccess provided by Continental Airlines offer comforts like guarantees of no-middle-seat and upgrades to the first class if possible.

Getting Value for Money:

Companies are constantly curtailing overhead expenses by cutting down on the travel allowances they give their executives, while business travelers look for ways in which they can maximize their allowances to the fullest.

For example, several hotels offer free breakfasts, while others provide complimentary facilities such as a welcoming snack or allowing their guests to make free long distance and local calls. Many hotels also offer free newspapers, tea and coffee.

Feeling at Home Far Away from Home:

Business travelers are so frequently away from home that they look for services that replicate their home comforts.

Why the London Riots Created a Greater Business Travel Threat Than a Terrorist Attack

Introduction to the London riots threat

If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes. At the end of this article, you will have a specific understanding of the required business travel management response and awareness as to why this will happen again.

The London riots and demonstrations has resulted in one of the largest business travel disruptions of 2011.

London Riots and Demonstrations

The London riots and demonstrations have come as a complete surprise to many. It is not a unique event and certainly not unique to the UK. The scale, violence, fire and failure of the authorities is often something expected in other countries but the lack of preparedness for destinations like the UK is common and widespread. Therefore, the lack of preparedness and last-minute scramble to respond and the inability to avoid major business travel disruptions are widespread as a result.

Due to the footprint of disruption, many routes and modes of transport have been negatively affected. Simple commute from the airport, trains and ports to planned accommodation options have been altered and continuous review of hazard or threat assessment are required. Furthermore, travel support providers such as taxis, hotels, restaurants, emergency services an other basic amenities have also been affected, to varying degrees.

Travel and risk managers need to immediately identify:

Affected areas,
Degree of threat,
Affected and exposed (inbound and outbound) business travellers,
Arrival/departure points,
Safe and non-affected areas,
Mitigation or eradication options,
Cost of implementation,
Funds available,
Emergency support,
Accommodation options,
On-going or developing events,
Social or non-business activity,
Insurance claims and compliance requirements,
Cancellation criteria,
Resumption of travel criteria,
Extended event plans,
Travel alternatives (domestic and international)

The London riots have affected multiple support systems related to business and leisure travel. Any leisure travel disruptions will further compound business travel threats such as decreased accommodation options, airport congestion and increased public transport demand. Even simple actions like withdrawing money from an ATM will prove a challenge and compound the hazard/s.

The London riots have had a prolonged affect on UK business travel sector, far greater than the majority of terrorist attacks. Further affects such as planning and preparation for the 2012 Olympics will also contribute to the lingering affects.

A lack of planning and subsequent response capability by businesses could constitute a failure of duty of care, due diligence, corporate social responsibility, workplace health and safety or other related legislation.

Terrorist attacks less of a threat than London riots

With the exception of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, most have limited travel disruption and only affect a narrow band of travellers. Inclusive of the Mumbai terror attack, terrorist attacks typically have clearly defined threat elements (terrorist, bombings, gunfire, etc) whereas the London riots is a constantly changing and unclear threat. Most business travellers will be unprepared for such decision-making demands and lack sufficient experience to make consistent and safe decisions.

Most contemporary business risk management systems focus on location and plausible event threats, then seek to inform or prepare travellers for the best results to mitigate or eliminate the hazards and threats. Therefore, the bulk of business travellers will not be prepared or educated on how to respond in London, with such wide spread disruption and threats. Few will have residual knowledge from information and preparation for such events in other locations, considered more likely to be medium to high risk. Many of the supporting business travel management departments and managers will be equally unprepared and resourced.

A terrorist attack and other similar violent crimes would have a much smaller footprint of disruption, not affected such a wide business travel demographic, not affect business travel support providers so comprehensively or have such a prolonged impact on all exposed.

Routine travel delays, disruptions and changes represent one of the most persistent and probable travel risk management issues.

Travel delay, disruption and changes

Change management and the decision-making involved is one of the most commonly accepted workplace hazard concerns. This is equally relevant to business travel and business travel threats.

The instinctive and guided response of travellers to any delay, disruption or change can significantly affect the outcome of any spontaneous or new hazard as it presents. Particularly when this is the first level of response, before support options and resources can be activated or come into affect.

Travel delays have been triggered due to airport and airline workers unable to get to work, taxi drivers not able to refuel vehicles, hotels and staff overwhelmed, business travellers unprepared and convergence of business and leisure travellers upon all available exit travel nodes.

Access to information, at all levels, the ability to consume and process all the options and explore alternatives is imperative in this and similar travel disruption events. Crisis leadership will succeed more frequently than simple crisis management, to which are dependent upon timely and accurate information from all available resources.

Unfortunately, many will fail to fully understand the gravity of the events, the threats posed and respond or prepare accordingly. While many others exposed will chalk it up to another force majeure or random act that is just part of the rich experience of international travel. Courts, business travellers and peer review increasingly do not share this flippant view.

This scenario and lack of preparedness has been played out numerous times in recent history. Volcanos, volcanic ash affects, Japan’s tsunami, airport closures, airline failure and many others have caught business travellers and managers alike unprepared. This disturbing trend will continue.

Conclusion: London riots threat

You should now see why the London riots have a far greater impact and threat to travellers than you may have originally thought. We have examined the business travel threat posed by the London riots, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays. You now have a specific plan for this and similar events and the required business travel management and response. This will happen again. Perhaps not in London, perhaps not a city wide demonstration but this kind and scale of business travel disruption event will happen more than once before the end of 2011. Review your plan and make the necessary enhancements now.