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Consider the following case:

A Germany based employee of a private company makes a domestic (within Germany) business trip where the employee:

  1. Departs their home at 0:700 am on calendar day 1.
  2. Has dinner covered by a client on calendar day 1.
  3. Makes a single overnight stay.
  4. Has breakfast covered by the hotel on calendar day 2.
  5. Returns to their place of residence at 22:00 on calendar day 2.

What is the correct way to apply the Verpflegungsmehraufwand (German statutory rules with regards to meal expenses) rules here?

Calculation 1:

Take 14 € (as of 2023) Small meal allowance and apply it to both days (since both days are arrival/departure days) and then deduct 40% of the Small meal allowance for the dinner on calendar day 1 and 20% of the Small meal allowance for breakfast on calendar day 2. E.g.

  • Day 1: 14 € * (1 - 0.4) = 8.4 €
  • Day 2: 14 € * (1 - 0.2) = 11.2 €
  • Total: 19.6 €

Calculation 2:

Take 14 € (as of 2023) Small meal allowance and apply it to both days (since both days are arrival/departure days) and then deduct 40% of the Large meal allowance for the dinner on calendar day 1 and 20% of the Large meal allowance for breakfast on calendar day 2. E.g.

  • Day 1: 14 € - (28€ * 0.4) = 2.8 €
  • Day 2: 14 € - (28€ * 0.2) = 8.4 €
  • Total: 11.2 €

Which calculation is objectively correct? What is the authoritative source which dictates which approach is correct/incorrect?

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    If you ask yourself if it is relevant for the value of the dinner on day one or the breakfast on day two wether or not the meals are provided on a departure/arrival day or on a full day and find the really obvious answer to that question, you will realize that calculation 2 is correct. The authorative source is the Einkommensteuergesetz. Apr 28, 2023 at 15:52

1 Answer 1

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The relevant law is Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG) § 9 Werbungskosten:

die [...] ermittelten Verpflegungspauschalen [sind] zu kürzen:

  1. für Frühstück um 20 Prozent,
  2. für Mittag- und Abendessen um jeweils 40 Prozent,

der [...] Verpflegungspauschale für einen vollen Kalendertag; die Kürzung darf die ermittelte Verpflegungspauschale nicht übersteigen.

Own translation:

[If free meals are included], the daily allowances have to be reduced by 20% for breakfast and 40% for lunch/dinner of the allowance for a full calendar day, reduction must not be larger than the allowance.

The allowance for a full day is currently 28€, so deductions are 11.20€ and 5.60€ respectively and calculation 2 is correct. If, for example, breakfast and lunch are included on the day of departure, the allowance for this day will be 0€. The daily allowance will be different for days spent outside of Germany.

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