Chances are that your business won't be paying, and you're not going to like it.
Inland Revenue recently issued an Interpretation Statement (IS 21/06) on the deductibility of meals when you're on the road for business purposes. It's not a new law, but explicit instructions on how existing law must be applied.
Inland Revenue considers meals to be a necessity for living rather than for earning income. Based on that, the following applies to 99%* of businesses:
Sole traders / partnerships
- No food or drink can be claimed as a business expense. Not even if you're away on business, staying at a hotel overnight or over many nights, or attending a conference.
- The only situation where meals/drinks can be claimed as a business expense is when they fall under the entertainment guidelines. Even then, only 50% of the cost is deductible.
- There are no exceptions to the above* - it's black and white. You're expected to pay for meals yourself and/or take a paper-bag lunch and a thermos to work.
You're in exactly the same position as sole traders and partnerships above, with one exception - your signed employment agreement requires that your employer (the company) reimburse you for reasonable meals and drinks while away from your normal place of business, or provides you with an allowance.
Other travelling costs
The costs of accommodation and travel to the location remain deductible for business purposes.
You're likely to be thinking to yourself "But...", "What if...?", "What about...?"
The answer is "no".
* Our slightly longer blog here includes very limited exceptions, but don’t get your hopes up.