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Meal expenses when self-employed

The cost of your own meals is usually a private expense. This means you generally cannot claim costs for meal expenses if you're either:

  • self-employed
  • running your business through a look-through company.

Further details can be found on the 'Income tax and GST - Treatment of meal expenses' fact sheet on our Tax Technical site.

Income tax and GST - Treatment of meal expenses -

Exception in limited situations

You may be able to claim additional meal costs if you have no choice but to pay extra because you're required to work either:

  • in a remote location (just 'working away' is not enough for the expenses to be claimed)
  • unusual hours.

In these cases, any extra costs over your normal meal costs would be able to be claimed as an expense.

Entertainment expenses including meals

When you're self-employed and have entertainment expenses including meals, you can claim 50% of the total cost. For example, you can claim 50% of the costs for a business lunch you have with your clients.

There are other entertainment expenses you may be able to claim.

Entertainment expenses

GST and meal expenses

GST follows the same rules as income tax for meal expenses. If you cannot claim an expense, you cannot claim GST.

Employee allowances

If you have employees, you may be able to claim a deduction for any meal allowance or reimbursing allowance you pay them.


Last updated: 29 Nov 2021
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