What’s Deductible When You Travel to a Conference?


Here’s a quiz about deducting expenses when traveling to a conference:

A provider, her husband, and their two daughters drive 150 miles to a family child care conference. They drove to the conference on Thursday, attended the conference on Friday and Saturday, spent Sunday on vacation and drove home on Monday. The husband does work for the provider (3 hours a week), but is not paid for his work. The older daughter is paid for 15 hours a week helping to care for the children. She, her husband and their older daughter attend the conference workshops. The younger daughter does not do any work for the business and does not attend the conference.

How much of the following expenses could the provider deduct: mileage, hotel room, conference registration fees, food?


You can deduct mileage if the “primary purpose” of the trip was for your business. This means over half of the reason for the trip must be business related. In this example the provider spent two of the three days at the destination on business activities, so she can count the mileage ($.54 per mile for 2016). If she spent three days on vacation she could not deduct any miles. If she only attended the conference for two half days, she couldn’t deduct any of the miles.


The provider can deduct the cost of her hotel bill for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but not Sunday. Since her husband works for her and is attending the conference she can deduct the full cost of their room for those nights. If he wasn’t working for her and didn’t attend the conference she could still deduct the full cost of the room if there was no extra charge for him being in the room. She could deduct the cost of the hotel room for the older daughter, but not the younger daughter. If they stayed in the same room and cost was the same for two as it would be for one, then the full cost would be deductible.

Conference registration

The provider can deduct the cost of the conference registration for herself, her husband and her older daughter.


The provider can deduct the cost of food for herself, her husband and her older daughter for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. She can either save food receipts and deduct half the cost of the receipts, or she can not save receipts and use the federal government food per diem rate.

The standard daily rate is $51, but is higher for many cities. Add up all the days and partial days (count ever six hours as a quarter of a day), multiply by the per diem rate and then divide by two to get your food deduction. So, if the provider traveled to Atlanta, Georgia after October 2016 the per diem is $69. If they left at 10am on Thursday and returned at 5pm on Monday, she was away from home 4.25 days. Since one day was personal she can deduct $69 x 3.25 days = $224.25 divided by 2 = $112.13 x 3 people = $336.39 food deduction.

Other possible business deductions for such a trip include:

  • Purchase of items at the conference used for her business (curriculum, toys, etc.)
  • Paying someone to care for the day care children on Thursday, Friday and Monday
  • Claiming the child care tax credit for paying a non-family member to care for the youngest daughter who did not attend the conference


Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/scsl/

record-keeping-smallFor more information about what’s deductible, see my book Family Child Care Record Keeping Guide.

Categories: Car Expenses, Deductions, Record Keeping & Taxes

2 replies

  1. Thank you for this article! What happens with conferences like the Nurture Your Mind, Body and Soul Child Care Conference where there are “free days” included in the schedule.. one in the middle of the conference week and one at the end? Can I deduct the food and hotel costs these days?

    Also, because the fees are grouped in conferences like this (lodging, breakfast, transportation, conference fees, etc.) do I need to separate them all out on my taxes or group them all as conference registration?

    • You can deduct all the hotel days and food even on “free days” because they are in the middle of the conference. You don’t have to separate out the costs of the conference. Deduct 100% of the conference fees that include food, registration, etc.

Leave a Reply to Marilee Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *