FORTUNE Small Business:

Can I write off my international travel?

A home-based travel agent checks in with Ask FSB for advice on what she can deduct.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I have a home-based travel agency. Can I deduct my international travel expenses and educational FAM trips?

- Nancy Vollmer, Holloway, Minn.

Dear Nancy: As you know, a FAM or "familiarization" trip, refers to a reduced-cost tour offered by a group of suppliers to educate travel agents about their destination and services.

For example, a resort property in Fiji might team up with local restaurants and tour operators to present a discounted FAM trip for agents from the United States. The idea is that you, the travel professional, can then better share knowledge about these experiences with your clients.

As long as you are a profit-seeking travel agency business - even if you operate out of your home - you can deduct all business-related expenses on the federal Schedule C form.

This applies whether the travel is local or international. Meals and entertainment are generally also deductible, says Martin Chan, a Philadelphia CPA.

Note that the primary purpose of any trip for which you plan to deduct expenses must be business. You cannot deduct expenses from family vacation or leisure trips.

Thoroughly document your expenses with receipts and written records, advises Nina Cunningham of Liberty Tax Service, a nationwide income tax preparation company headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va..

Remember also, Chan says, that travel agents who work from home can deduct the percentage of home utility and maintenance bills used to maintain and run the business. Use form 8829, "Expenses for Business Use of Home."  To top of page

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