Meaning of Travel Expenses

Anyone who travels a lot as an entrepreneur usually also incurs travel expenses. But the question often arises as to how this travel expense report is created correctly so that there are no annoying additional payments in the event of a tax audit.

Creating a travel expense report is not as easy as some people think, because a number of things have to be taken into account, because even a small thing that is missing can result in the tax office either only partially accepting these expenses or not at all.
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Travel expenses are divided into different categories and each of them must be treated differently:

  • The travel expenses

According to Polyhobbies, the business trip can be carried out by company vehicle, private vehicle or by train, bus or plane. If the company vehicle is used, nothing special needs to be taken into account, except of course that the logbook is kept properly – if this is or has to be kept. Furthermore, the costs for the journey by bus or train as well as the flight can be deducted in full, in which case only the corresponding receipt (invoice) is required. It looks different when driving a private car, because here you have the option of using either a flat rate or an individual mileage rate. For an expensive vehicle in particular, it can be worthwhile to use the individual kilometer rate, even if it is a bit more complex to determine.

  • Calculate the individual mileage rate.

For this, all costs that are incurred annually for the vehicle must be added up and then divided by the annual kilometers. The costs include depreciation, interest, taxes, insurance, repairs & maintenance, garage rental and fuel costs. The calculated kilometer rate is then billed for each kilometer driven.

  • The flat rate per kilometer

If this kilometer rate is chosen, then 0.30 euros per kilometer driven will be set for the car. Other vehicles, such as a motorcycle, are subject to different flat rates, but these are rarely used in practice.

  • The meal expenses

Those who travel will incur higher meal costs and these so-called additional meal expenses will be reimbursed tax-free. How high the flat rates are can be found in Section 4, Paragraph 5, Clause 1, No. 5 EstG and these are also graded according to the length of absence per calendar day. Since the travel expense reform, billing travel expenses has become a little easier, because since 01/01/2014 there are only two flat rates for additional meals (up to then there were three) for periods of absence from work. The reorganization of the expense report is positivethat the short-term business travelers now receive more money than in previous years, because with a minimum absence of 8 hours they now receive double the money (previously it was 6 euros). In addition, the flat rates still apply to external activities at the same place of work for a maximum of three months. These amount to:

  • If you are absent for at least 8-12 hours: 12 euros
  • With an absence of at least 24 hours 24 euros

It should be noted here that these values ​​only relate to domestic travel.

For entrepreneurs who travel abroad, different rates apply and these vary depending on the country of travel. These sentences are published at regular intervals in a BMF letter.

  • The accommodation costs

The company or business traveler has two options for their travel expense report: either according to receipt or according to a flat rate. As far as the lump sum for trips abroad is concerned, this is also published in the BMF letter and varies from country to country. For Germany the rate is currently 20 euros.

It should be noted that the cost of breakfast is often included in the accommodation costs and since breakfast is part of the catering and is included in the meal plan, these costs must be deducted from the accommodation costs. For domestic trips, the lump sum is EUR 4.50. For trips abroad, a rate of 20% is charged.

  • The additional travel expenses

These may be billed in full. These costs include a wide variety of costs such as tolls, ferry costs, parking fees, luggage costs, etc. Of course, the corresponding receipt must be available for each amount.

What else is there to consider?

In the travel expense report, it is essential to state who took the business trip, the date or duration, the reason and the travel destination.

This is followed by a list of the individual costs and the principle that all costs that are not included in a lump sum must be attached to the receipt of the travel expense report.

How does input tax have to be treated in the travel expense report?

If the travel expense report is accompanied by a proper invoice or receipt with input tax ID, this can be deducted. Here, as with all invoices, the mandatory information is based on Paragraph 14, Paragraph 4 of the UstG . For small amounts up to 150 euros, the regulation according to R 185a U StR 2008 is sufficient. As a result, input tax deduction is not possible for the lump sums and therefore this is the most common practice for most of the small businesses. In addition, no input tax can be claimed for the individual calculation of the kilometer rate, because the traveler is not an entrepreneur and is therefore not subject to sales tax, or cannot and must not report this.

Travel Expenses