IRS Publication 463, Conventions

You can deduct your travel expenses when you attend a convention if you can show that your attendance benefits your trade or business. You cannot deduct the travel expenses for your family.

If the convention is for investment, political, social, or other purposes unrelated to your trade or business, you cannot deduct the expenses.

Caution Your appointment or election as a delegate does not, in itself, determine whether you can deduct travel expenses. You can deduct your travel expenses only if your attendance is connected to your own trade or business.

Convention agenda. The convention agenda or program generally shows the purpose of the convention. You can show your attendance at the convention benefits your trade or business by comparing the agenda with the official duties and responsibilities of your position. The agenda does not have to deal specifically with your official duties and responsibilities; it will be enough if the agenda is so related to your position that it shows your attendance was for business purposes.

Conventions Held Outside the North American Area

You cannot deduct expenses for attending a convention, seminar, or similar meeting held outside the North American area unless:

  1. The meeting is directly related to your trade or business, and

  2. It is as reasonable to hold the meeting outside the North American area as in it.

If the meeting meets these requirements, you also must satisfy the rules for deducting expenses for business trips in general, discussed earlier under Travel Outside the United States.

North American area. The North American area includes the following locations.

American Samoa
Antigua and Barbuda1
Baker Island
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Howland Island
Jarvis Island
Johnston Island
Kingman Reef
Marshall Islands
Midway Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
Saint Lucia
Trinidad and Tobago
U.S. Virgin Islands
Wake Island

1Antigua and Barbuda are included in this list only for expenses incurred in attending conventions that began after February 9, 2003.

Reasonableness test. The following factors are taken into account to determine if it was reasonable to hold the meeting outside the North American area.

  1. The purpose of the meeting and the activities taking place at the meeting.

  2. The purposes and activities of the sponsoring organizations or groups.

  3. The homes of the active members of the sponsoring organizations and the places at which other meetings of the sponsoring organizations or groups have been or will be held.

  4. Other relevant factors you may present.

Cruise Ships

You can deduct up to $2,000 per year of your expenses of attending conventions, seminars, or similar meetings held on cruise ships. All ships that sail are considered cruise ships.

You can deduct these expenses only if all five of the following requirements are met.

  1. The convention, seminar, or meeting is directly related to your trade or business.

  2. The cruise ship is a vessel registered in the United States.

  3. All of the cruise ship's ports of call are in the United States or in possessions of the United States.

  4. You attach to your return a written statement signed by you that includes information about:

    1. The total days of the trip (not including the days of transportation to and from the cruise ship port),

    2. The number of hours each day that you devoted to scheduled business activities, and

    3. A program of the scheduled business activities of the meeting.

  5. You attach to your return a written statement signed by an officer of the organization or group sponsoring the meeting that includes:

    1. A schedule of the business activities of each day of the meeting, and

    2. The number of hours you attended the scheduled business activities.


Information courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.