Is Your Per Diem Taxable? Find Out Now!

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When you travel for business, you may be eligible to receive a per diem allowance. This is an amount of money allocated by your employer to cover your expenses while away from home. While per diems are a great way to make sure you have enough funds available during your travels, many people wonder if they need to pay taxes on them.

Is Your Per Diem Taxable? Find Out Now!Is Your Per Diem Taxable? Find Out Now!

What is a Per Diem?

A per diem is an allowance paid by an employer for work-related travel expenses incurred by employees. It covers meals, lodging, and incidental expenses such as tips and transportation costs. Most companies use the standard federal rate or established company rates when calculating their daily allowances, which vary depending on the location of the employee’s trip.

Are Per Diems Taxable?

The good news is that most per diems are not considered taxable income for employees who meet certain criteria established by the IRS. According to current regulations in 2021, employers can provide tax-free compensation up to $66 per day ($70/day if traveling outside of CONUS) for any employee who meets all IRS requirements concerning accountable reimbursement plans.

To qualify as non-taxable compensation under these plans:

  • The expense must be business-related.
  • You must provide supporting documentation and receipts within specific guidelines set forth by your employer.
  • Any unused portion of a per-diem payment must be reimbursed back to the employer.

If your expense report does not comply with these requirements or exceeds this limit set by law, then it will become part of your taxable income reported on Form W-2 at year-end.

While receiving tax-free reimbursements sounds like a benefit that everyone would want access too; there are cases where electing actuals instead could result in greater deductions than working with federal rates

Claiming Actual Expenses versus Standard Rates

One alternative method some taxpayers choose when reporting employment moving or business miles traveled is by claiming actual expenses they incurred while traveling. This may mean saving receipts or using reimbursements provided through one’s employer to cover specific costs.

Depending on the given scenario, whether traveling frequently for business, moving and relocating employment, or other reasons requiring travel regularly, per diems versus actual expense reporting can affect your tax liability in a number of ways that are dependent upon factors like:

  • The type of reimbursement plan you participate in;
  • Your tax bracket and estimated income during the year.


In summary; qualifying expenses reimbursed under an accountable reimbursement plan is generally considered non-taxable income. However if you choose to go with “actuals” instead , those amounts claimed must be backed up with valid receipts and properly documented. As always if you have concerns regarding how this information may impact your tax situation contact a trusted tax professional for advice!


Here are three popular FAQs with answers for “Is Your Per Diem Taxable? Find Out Now!”.

Is per diem taxable income?
Yes, per diem is typically considered taxable income by the IRS. However, if you receive a per diem allowance that does not exceed federal and state allowed rates, it may be excluded from your taxable income.

Can I claim per diem on my taxes?
If you are an employee who receives a non-taxable per diem allowance from your employer and you have unreimbursed business expenses related to your work (such as travel or lodging expenses), you may be able to claim those expenses as deductions on your tax return using Form 2106-EZ or Form 2106.

How do I report my per diem income on my tax return?
If you received a taxable per diem payment that was not included in box 1 of your W-2 form, you must report the amount on line 7 of Schedule 1 (Form 1040). If the amount was included in box 1 of your W-2 form, then simply enter it into the appropriate field when filing your tax return online or via paper forms.