Business travelers who incur expenses while traveling away from home have new per-diem rates to use in substantiating certain of those expenses. The new rates are in effect from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019. The IRS provided the 2018–2019 special per-diem rates, including the transportation industry meal and incidental expenses rates, the rate for the incidental-expenses-only deduction, and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method.
The updated rates are effective for per-diem allowances paid to any employee on or after Oct. 1, 2018, for travel away from home on or after that date.
High-low substantiation method
For purposes of the high-low substantiation method, the per-diem rates are $287 for travel to any high-cost locality and $195 for travel to any other locality within the continental United States (CONUS), slightly higher than last year.
The amount of these rates that is treated as paid for is $71 for travel to a high-cost locality and $60 for travel to any other locality within CONUS, both $3 higher than last year.
Since 2012, incidental expenses have included only fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, hotel staff, and staff on ships. The per-diem rate for the incidental-expenses-only deduction remains unchanged at $5 per day for any locality of travel.
The special meals and incidental expenses rates for taxpayers in the transportation industry are $66 for any locality of travel within CONUS and $71 for any locality of travel outside CONUS, both $3 higher than last year after remaining the same the last three years.