ADVERTISING, TRAVEL, BENEFITS, OTHER

Conventions, Seminars, and Trade Shows

Many entrepreneurs regularly attend industry trade shows, conferences and seminars both near and far to support their businesses. These events allow business owners an opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs, vendors and industry leaders, not to mention stay on top of the latest technology and innovation in their respective fields. Often times these events have a high price tag but it is important to remember that if the event you attend serves a legitimate purpose it's cost may be deductible come tax time.

AUTHOR / SPEAKER

Jolly is a professional speaker and an author who writes books for parents on child care. Jolly makes sure to attend at least two different seminars each year to promote her books and stay on top of the the most current parenting strategies. Last year she spent a total of $1,750 on conference registration fees, all of which will be deductible on line 27a of her Schedule C when she prepares her taxes.

REAL ESTATE AGENT

Ned is a real estate agent who is working on developing a proprietary application for his clients to use that will aggregate information about all of his listings. Last year Ned had his concept figured out but was struggling to get his application to work as intended. To overcome this dilemma, Ned attended five techcrunch seminars where he was able to listen to experts discuss how to solve similar problems and network with full time mobile developers. Even though these seminars aren't directly related to real estate, Ned will be able to deduct the cost of these events on his Schedule C since the events served a business purpose.

LANDLORD

Genie is a landlord who owns multiple rental properties in Austin, Texas. Last year she traveled to San Francisco, California to attend a property management trade show. Genie left Austin Sunday night for her trade show, which was scheduled for Monday through Wednesday. She chose to stay in San Francisco an extra day to explore the city before flying back to Austin on Friday. When filing her taxes, since her trip was primarily for business Genie could deduct the cost of her conference, her flight and other reasonable travel expenses directly related to her business activities on line 19 of her Schedule E. She cannot however deduct any of the personal costs she incurred while touring the city on Thursday.


DEVELOPER / ENGINEER

Jason is a solo web developer based out of Philadelphia who specializes in building ecommerce websites. This summer, Jason is planning to travel to Spain for a five day conference, followed by five days of vacation. He spent $5,000 on business class seats, $1,500 on the conference and $4,000 on lodging. When Jason is ready to file his taxes he should deduct the full $1,500 for his conference but prorate his flight and hotel based on the number of days related to his business trip and deduct $4,500 (($5,000+$4,000) x 5/10). If Jason had spent less than 25% of his total time abroad on non-business activities, or if he was gone for seven days or less (excluding day of departure, including day of return), he would have been able to consider his trip entirely for business and may have been able to deduct all of the travel costs he incurred to attend his conference.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Pablo is a sole practitioner lawyer who recently signed up for a conference in Boston. He paid $900 to attend the conference plus another $600 for train tickets and $1,500 for a hotel for him and his wife, who was joining for leisure. Pablo could deduct the full $900 admittance fee for his conference. He would not however be able to deduct the $300 train ticket purchased for his wife or the $400 he paid to upgrade to a larger hotel room that could accommodate two since his wife is not an employee or partner in his business and there was not any legitimate business purpose for her to travel to Boston.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The registration and lodging expenses you incur attending a convention, seminar, or trade show are generally 100% deductible as long as the event you attend provides, maintains, or improves the skills related to your trade or business. Keep in mind however that conferences you attend for political, investment or personal purposes are not deductible expenses.
  • If you attend a conference outside of the United States, your travel may be fully deductible if your trip is entirely devoted to business activities. A trip is considered devoted entirely to business activities if any of the following is true: You are gone for a week or less (excluding day of departure, including day of return), less than 25% of the time spent on your trip was not related to business, or if you can establish you did not schedule your trip to take a vacation. If you do not meet any of these criteria your travel costs may be partially deductible or not deductible. Refer to our diagram and the IRS for details.
  • If you travel to a conference in the U.S. your transportation (airfare or car), meals (50%), single hotel room and other business expenses incurred at your conference would generally be considered deductible. If you take a personal trip and happened to attend a conference or event while away, you can only deduct the conference fee and other business-related expenses you incurred while at your destination.
  • If you travel with your spouse, relative or friend on business or to a convention you may not deduct any portion of their travel or convention costs unless they are your employee, partner, professional advisor, customer, or other party who joined you for a legitimate business purpose.
  • Make sure to hold on to your conference registration confirmation and any receipts for business expenses incurred while at your event so you can substantiate your deductions.
  • The guidance outlined on this page surrounding travel to conferences is primarily relevant to sole proprietors and business owners. A number of travel rules specific to employees have been excluded from this page. Note however that the rules for traveling to conferences can also be applied to travel related to other legitimate business purposes.

No items found.