Accommodation per diem
When employees are on a business trip lasting several days, costs are often incurred for overnight stays in a hotel or private accommodation. Companies now have the option of paying their employees a per diem allowance for overnight stays. In Germany, this amounts to 20 euros and can be reimbursed tax-free up to this value.
The overnight per diems per year
The overnight per diem briefly explained
The overnight per diem comes into effect when an employee:in stays overnight in a hotel or private accommodation during a business trip. For the travelers who are entitled to the sum, the amount is tax-free. However, it is important to know here that the overnight allowance is not a business expense. Only when the company pays the full costs of overnight stays is it also a business expense. Furthermore, employers are not obliged to grant the flat-rate accommodation allowance in the context of a business trip. Furthermore, it is possible for flat rates to be agreed individually with employees.
The domestic per diem for overnight stays
The most important factor in determining reimbursable costs is, firstly, who bears the costs of the overnight stay. And secondly, the question of whether the overnight stay took place in Germany or abroad. Within Germany, the Bundesreisekostengesetz stipulates a flat rate of 20 euros per night for the reimbursement of overnight costs. If the company itself provides a free or discounted alternative for overnight accommodation, the flat rate for overnight accommodation may not be reimbursed. This also applies to overnight stays with friends or relatives, even if it is a business trip.
The per diem for overnight stays abroad
If the travelers are abroad, the settlement of the overnight flat rate can be somewhat more complicated. There are different flat rates for each country and even for certain cities. The overnight flat rates for foreign travel are set annually by the Federal Ministry of Finance. If the situation exists that a country does not have a designated flat rate for overnight stays, that of Luxembourg applies. In general, costs are increasing, therefore the lump sums for out-of-town activities are adjusted. For the per diem rate for overnight stays, only the place where the overnight stay took place applies. A night spent in a means of transport such as a plane or train is not counted unless the traveler is on the road the whole night.
Settlement of the per diem for overnight stays
There are different methods and procedures to settle the costs of overnight stays. In this article, we would like to introduce you to three of the most common methods.
Method 1: Paying the lump sum for overnight stay
In the first option, the accommodation per diem is paid by the company. In this case, the amount is tax-free. If employees find significantly cheaper accommodation, they are paid the tax-free difference. In this case, however, it is important that accommodation costs have actually been incurred. For this reason, travelers should always ask to see the receipt. The amount of the overnight allowance is only set at a flat rate of 20 euros throughout Germany.
Method 2: Assumption of the costs incurred
It is often the case that the company pays the entire accommodation costs. Of course, this procedure is only possible if the employee has submitted an invoice. This method is particularly uncomplicated for companies and the costs can be listed as a business expense.
Method 3: The company does not bear any costs
As already mentioned, companies are not obliged to pay the accommodation costs of their employees. If this is the case, travelers must pay the amount out of their own pockets. Nevertheless, the hotel receipt should not disappear in the wastepaper basket. These costs can be deducted as income-related expenses. This method is also not recommended, as employees should not always have to bear the costs of a business trip themselves.
Special tax features: For companies and employees
In terms of tax law, the situation is as follows: if a company pays the accommodation costs incurred, this sum is considered a business expense. On the whole, this means that the profit is reduced and the tax burden decreases as a result. For employees whose company pays the full flat rate, things look much better. They receive a fixed lump sum, with the option of staying in a cheap hotel. Then you are entitled to the difference tax-free. So for travelers who are on the road for longer and often prefer inexpensive accommodation, there is a financial advantage. Because even if the flat-rate income-related expenses allowance is no longer available, the costs can still be submitted for income tax purposes.
The per diem accommodation allowance is important for all employees who travel frequently for business. It also offers something for all those who do not use the full amount for a hotel booking. In this way, they can earn some extra money in a tax-privileged way. Since companies are not obliged to pay the flat rate, employees should always keep the invoices. Even if the flat-rate allowance for income-related expenses is no longer applicable, the costs can still be submitted for income tax purposes.
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