The law known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), P.L 115-97, significantly changed Sec. 274 by eliminating the deduction for any expenses considered entertainment, amusement, or recreation. The amendments denied deductions for expenses for business entertainment and increased the scope of the deduction limitation for expenses related to food and beverages employers provided.
Because the Code was unclear about the deductibility of food and beverages expenses when combined with entertainment expense, the IRS provided transitional guidance on the deductibility of business meals through Notice 2018-76 and later through proposed regulations under Sec. 274 issued in February 2020 (REG-100814-19). On Sept. 30, 2020, the IRS issued Regs. Secs. 1.274-11 and 1.274-12 (T.D. 9925) to address the changes made to the meals and entertainment deduction under the TCJA.
Regs. Sec. 1.274-11 disallows the deduction for certain entertainment, amusement, or recreation expenditures paid or incurred after Dec. 31, 2017. An objective test is used to determine whether an activity is entertainment and the taxpayer's trade or business is considered when applying this test. Under this provision, any expenditure that is considered entertainment or in connection with an entertainment activity, including a facility used in connection with an entertainment activity, is not deductible. Dues or fees to any social, athletic, or sporting club, or to any organization that has connections to facilities are nondeductible. In addition, no deductions are allowed for amounts paid for membership in any business, pleasure, recreation, or social club.
However, under Regs. Sec. 1.274-11, entertainment does not include expenditures for food and beverages, unless the food or beverages are provided at an entertainment activity. Food and beverages provided at an entertainment activity are considered an entertainment expense and not deductible unless the food or beverage cost is stated separately from the cost of the entertainment cost on bills, invoices, or receipts. If the food or beverages are not purchased separately from the entertainment, or there is no reasonable allocation of the cost of food or beverages on the invoice separate from the cost of entertainment, then the entire amount is nondeductible.