Can I write off my travel expenses?

Like meals, a lot of contractors forget to claim business travel write offs. You don’t have to be flying first class and staying at a fancy hotel to claim this write off. Many 1099 contracting jobs involve traveling to nearby states or cities.

What kinds of trips count?

The IRS has just a few guidelines to determine whether a trip is for business.

  1. Your destination should be far - at least 100 miles from home. That’s about a two hour drive, or any kind of plane ride. The trip should require you to rest or sleep somewhere that isn’t your home.
  2. You should be working regular hours while on the trip. In general, that means 8 hours a day of work-related activity. It’s fine to take personal time in the evenings and you can still take off weekends, but you can’t take a half hour call from Disneyland and call it a business trip.
  3. The trip should last less than a year. Once you’ve been someone for over a year, you’re essentially living there. If your work is seasonal, traveling for six months at a time is fine, though!

Let’s do some examples.

You’re a Lyft driver living in LA. You drive out to Indio for high fares at Coachella. You can write off all of your meals and lodging expenses while on the trip.

You’re a real estate agent living in Chicago. You travel to an industry conference in Las Vegas. You attend the conference during the day and go out in the evenings. The flight, meals, hotel, and wifi expenses are all tax write offs.

You’re a freelancer on Upwork, living in Seattle. You move down to San Diego for the winter for better weather and to expand your network, and work regular hours while you’re there. Flights, meals, sublet expenses, and shipping expenses are all tax deductible.


What travel write offs can I claim?

Keeper automatically identifies and write off all of the below expenses when we’ve established that you’re traveling for work.

🚆 Transportation

Flight, train, and car rental expenses are all tax write offs. Don’t forget the Uber ride from the airport and back!

🏨 Lodging

Hotels, motels, airbnb stays, expended sublets from craigslist, or even reimbursing a friend for sleeping on their couch. It’s all tax deductible.

🥡 Meals

Regardless of whether you’re alone, or with others. All food expenses while you’re traveling for work can be written off. That includes groceries and take-out.

🌐 Wifi

Airplane wifi, motel wifi, and so on is completely deductible when you’re traveling for work. This also includes other communication expenses like hotspots and international calls.

📦 Shipping

If you need to ship things as part of your trip, such as conference booth materials or simply extra clothes, those expenses are tax deductible.

✨ Dry cleaning

If you have to look your best on the trip, related expenses are tax deductible. That includes washing and cleaning charges.

Let keeper fetch tax savings for you

Keeper finds tax deductible expenses among your purchases ... automatically! Save $1000s a year claiming the tax write offs you’re eligible for as a contractor.

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Get a list of every tax write off you can claim

Use this list to make sure you’re not leaving a single penny on the table at tax time.

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Note: at Keeper, we care about helping you save on taxes. That leads us to generalize tax advice which ultimately cannot be completely generalized. Everyone's situation is different. Please drop a note above or reach out via email if you have questions.