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Double up on your business travel deductions

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If you plan on taking a business trip in the coming months and bringing your spouse along for the trip, there is a way to write off travel costs attributable to both of you, regardless of whether your spouse works for your company.

How? Normally, the travel costs attributable to your spouse aren't deductible if he or she isn't a bona fide employee of your company. But if your spouse is self-employed, he or she can arrange a meeting or scout out some new business opportunities at the same time you plan to visit.

That way, you can write off all the travel expenses of the trip—the air fare, lodging and 50 percent of the cost of meals—if the travel is primarily related to business activity.

Say you're flying to New York to meet with an important client. At the same time, your self-employed spouse seizes the opportunity to visit several suppliers for her sideline business.

If you properly account for your travel, your employer-paid reimbursements are tax-free to you and deductible by the company. What's more, your spouse can write off her travel expenses on his Schedule C.

The point is: You don't need to be employed by the same company to double the write-off. This strategy also works if you separately meet the tax-law requirements.

Tip: Even if your nonworking spouse simply tags along for the ride—meaning she has no business purpose for the trip—you can deduct what it would have cost you to stay in a single room even if that's more than half the cost of your double.

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