Professional expenses in the tax return are those costs incurred in the course of work activities. Previously we looked at travel expenses, but today we're taking a closer look at meal costs.
What are meal costs?
Meal costs are additional costs of meals away from home for work-related reasons. If traveling home is not an option, taxpayers can deduct a flat rate per workday from their taxes. This should cover the cost of a full main meal, minus the out-of-pocket expenses that would be incurred for an equivalent meal at home.
How much is the meal deduction?
There are two different amounts for the meal deduction. Normally, this amounts to CHF 15 per working day or CHF 3,200 per year. However, if employees have the opportunity to eat lunch at a reduced rate, e.g. in a canteen, the deduction drops to CHF 7.50 per day or CHF 1,600 per year. To be sure which deduction applies to you, simply take your salary statement. In the upper right-hand corner, you will find the answer in the "G" field. If a check mark is placed there, you can only claim the reduced deduction.
The calculation is based on 220 working days with a 100% workload. On days on which you only work half days, the meal deduction cannot be claimed.
Shift and night work
For employees who work at least an eight-hour shift or night shift, compensation is granted for additional costs for meals away from home. The full deduction is CHF 15 per day or CHF 3,200 per year for year-round shift or night work (for full-time employees). Staggered working hours are treated in the same way as shift work, provided that the main meals cannot be taken at home at the usual times.
Let's assume that we are employed at a workload of 80%. Our company offers a canteen where we can have lunch at a reduced price. From time to time we have to work a night shift. This is a total of 14 days a year. The calculation is as follows:
220 working days at 80% Pensum = 176 days x CHF 7.50 per day= CHF 1'320.-. Now we have 14 days of night shift, which are valued at CHF 15.- per shift. So CHF 15 x 14 days = CHF 210.-. The total deduction for meals is therefore CHF 1'530.-.