Additional meal expenses refer to the additional costs that a person has to bear because he/she is away from his/her own home and away from the first place of work for professional reasons and therefore cannot eat as cheaply as at home. Since the individual determination of costs would be very time-consuming, lump sums/flat rates are specified which depend on the duration of the journey and the country of travel. This is regulated by paragraph § 4, paragraph 5, number 5, sentence 2 of the Income Tax Act.
The per diem meal allowances per year
The additional cost of meals for business trips
The legislator allows companies to support their employees with higher catering costs through a tax-free lump sum. It does not matter whether the employees have paid more or less, the same lump sum is always paid out. This has an advantage for employees, because they no longer have to keep receipts. The authorisation of the business trip is sufficient for the reimbursement of the sum.
Two important questions arise from this:
1. Does the trip last more than 8 hours or more than 24 hours?
If the absence lasts during a single working day and for less than eight hours, the employee will not be reimbursed for the business trip.
- A business trip begins when the traveling employee:in leaves the workplace/residence and ends when he/she returns to it.
- A maximum of three months can be reimbursed for a single trip.
2. Where do you travel for business?
For destinations, a distinction is made between business trips within Germany and abroad.
The per diem meal allowance if you are traveling in Germany
If you stay in Germany during your trip, you will receive:
- A half-day allowance (14 euros) for your first day of travel.
- A half-day compensation (14 euros) for trips lasting less than 24 hours, provided that:
- You have spent more than 8 hours on the trip - exactly 8 hours will not be compensated for
- the journey starts between 0:00 and 16:00.
- A full-day allowance (28 euros) for a journey that lasted 24 hours and/or for each full day between the first and last day of the journey.
- An allowance (20 euros) for each overnight stay during the trip if no accommodation was provided or paid for by the company.
Their daily allowance will be:
- Reduced by 20% if breakfast is provided.
- Reduced by 40% if lunch or dinner is provided.
- Fully reduced if all 3 meals are provided or booked separately.
Let's assume that a marketing manager named Lisa goes on a business trip to Germany for several days. On the first day, Lisa leaves her home at 6:30 pm. She spends the second day at a client seminar where breakfast has been paid for by the employer. On the third and last day, breakfast and lunch are paid for by the employer and then she travels back home after 18:00.
Lisa receives accordingly:
- For day 1: a half-day allowance of 14.00 euros = 14.00 euros.
- For day 2: a full-day allowance of 28,00 Euro reduced by 20% (5,60 Euro), as breakfast was already covered = 22,40 Euro
- For day 3: a half-day allowance of 14,00 Euro reduced by 60% (16,80 Euro), as breakfast and lunch were already covered = 0 Euro
Total remuneration: €14.00 + €22.40 + €0 = €36.40
Daily allowance rule when you travel abroad
For trips abroad, the same rules apply as described above, but with different allowance rates depending on the country and city:
- For travel from Germany to another country or from another country to another country.
- For journeys where you reach your destination country before 00:00 local time if you travel to several places on the same day.
In the table below you will find the per diems (in euros) for some of the destinations abroad. The complete overview with all countries can be found here.
For the countries not included in the overview, the per diem for Luxembourg applies.
Compensation scheme if you visit several destinations during a trip
Employees often visit different destinations during their trip. This does not necessarily affect the calculation of per diems, but it does if the individual cities or countries have different per diems.
The correctly calculated per diems are always those of the destination at which the traveller arrived before midnight on the day.
First destination: Business Conference in Paris
Start: 05 September, 11 a.m.
End: 07 End: 07 September, 18:00 (= arrival time at destination)
Second destination: Customer meeting in London
End: 09 September, 18:00 (= arrival time at home)
05 Sep: Daily rate for half a day in Paris = €39 €
06 Sep: Daily rate for a full day in Paris = 58 €
07 Sep: daily rate for a full day in London = 62 €
08 Sep: daily rate for a full day London = 62 €
09 Sep: daily rate for half a day London = 41 €
Total remuneration: 39 € + 58 € + 62 € + 62 € + 41 € = 262 €
Calculation of the example in Circula
Employees can calculate their additional meal expenses themselves in the Circula app in just a few steps and then submit expenses, business trips and per diems for their business trips in a straightforward collective manner. Circula automatically determines the value of the per diem for the country in which the traveller has stayed and thus significantly reduces the administrative effort.
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