How to Play Tax-Deductible Golf

Save your receipts, my friends.

With them and the tips below, you'll be able to write off 50 percent (and, in some cases, 100 percent) of the golf you play at home and while traveling.

Unlike in Canada (sorry, guys), tax-deductible golf in America is feasible if certain conditions are met.

Basically, you have to play in connection with business activities, but that's pretty easy to pull off.

Here are some examples -- all perfectly legal -- and the details below to prove it:

Local Golf
Do you have "substantial business discussions" with prospects, clients, customers, or employees in person, over the phone, or by email that you could instead conduct at a golf course?

If so, you can deduct 50 percent of what you spend on golf and meals (plus the roundtrip mileage) as long as (1) you conduct your business discussion before or after you play and (2) you conduct it in a business setting, such as a quiet and preferably private space inside the clubhouse.

Oh, and get this: while it's the classier move, you're not even required to "treat." Even if you split the day's total bill, the portion you paid is deductible.

Golf Trips
This can get more complicated (with respect to domestic vs. foreign travel, weekends, etc.) but the basic idea is the same:

If you can demonstrate a trip (or a portion of a trip) was taken for the "pursuit of business" you can deduct your costs of getting to and from the destination and any business-related expenses you incur at the destination.

There's no rule that says all important business meetings must take place locally. Take advantage of this.

Golf Lessons
You may want to run this one by a few accountants, but I've heard of people successfully deducting their golf lessons.

It's actually not as crazy as it sounds.

If you're someone who regularly uses golf to entertain customers or to prospect for clients, you could argue that improving your game improves your business.

This may be by helping you get an audience with new or key prospects, or, if you're a hacker, helping to be taken seriously.

Just remember: since golf lessons benefit you personally, too, you'll need to allocate your lesson costs according to how much you play for business vs. pleasure.

Golf Outings
So far, I've told you about golf expenses that are subject to a 50 percent tax deduction (that is, you can deduct half the cost). But here's how to write off 100 percent:

Play in a charity event or outing.

If the net proceeds of a volunteer-run event go to a qualified charity, you can deduct the entire cost of attending: golf, meals, etc.

You can do the same at most tour events if you attend them in connection with a legitimate business meeting/discussion.

If the tournament's net proceeds go to charity (most PGA Tour events do), and most of the work is done by volunteers, that qualifies the event for the 100 percent deduction: tickets, meals, parking, etc.

Now, this goes without saying, but I'm going to say it:

I am not a tax expert and none of this should be considered tax advice.

There are a few other important (but not impossible) conditions that must be met in order for any travel and entertainment -- including golf -- to be tax-deductible.

Consult an accountant and/or IRS Publication 463 before you deduct anything.

With that said, do you have any experience deducting golf and/or travel? If not, are you now more likely to consider it? Any questions about it?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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How to Play Tax-Deductible Golf
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