Travel and Meals
The IRS defines overnight travel as being far enough away from home so as to make it inconvenient to return home at night.
As a professional musician, you can deduct expenses associated with overnight travel.
Meals are only 50% deductible, but the rest such as tips (within reason), hotels and lodging, phone calls to home, clothes cleaning, etc. are OK.
This can include travel expenses to go to an out of town (overnight trip) gig or to a recording studio, etc.
It will include many of the expenses of the trips. Work/vacation?
Such as a side trip to Disney while driving back to New York from a road gig to Miami,
the trip to Miami is a deduction, but not the Disneyworld part.
Keep track of receipts. As an alternative, you can use the IRS meal allowance.
It's variable and depends on location and is adjusted by the IRS every year.
The allowance covers 3 meals and incidentals per day.
If you bring your spouse or dependants, they aren't included in expenses unless they're employees of the band.
Meals are deductible (remember, only 50%) as part of the overnight travel.
They are also allowed as a separate (non-travel) deduction when they meet the criteria of “ordinary, necessary and business related.”
On non overnight day trips. Meals can be deductions if they include business discussions.
You can take your agent or band members, or a venue manager or club owner, your lawyer, or anyone with whom you are legitimately planning to do music related business with.
You have to document the purpose and who was there and in general what was discussed.
Keep a log. It's a good idea to keep contact information of these guests in case the issue arises.
Although it is subject to change, the incredibly complex IRS pages to define the meals write-offs is available at the website. here.
The mileage deduction (allowance) rate changes each year but you can find the rates here.
Here is the current and past IRS mileage allowance.
You can also consider direct expenses.
This allows you to depreciate the cost of the vehicle in 5 years.
Add to that the information about the cost of gas, repairs, insurance, etc. (with receipts).
It's a bit more difficult to do it this way but can be worth it.
If you want to do it, you have to keep good records and receipts and do the math.
If you bought some humongous tour bus, or expensive van or truck, and didn't travel far, then the gas mileage may not be a better deduction. Decide which is better.
This is only a guide, and before you file you should get it all reviewed with a tax professional. There are a lot of details, and we haven't discusses long term investment, health Insurance and other deductions that are used by all of us. This is designed to be a helpful guide for entertainers, performers and musicians.