Understanding “Per Diem”

Per Diem Charges, 2023
Tier  Breakfast Lunch Dinner Incidental Bills Whole
1 $13  $15  $26 $5 $59
2 $14  $16 $29 $5 $64
3 $16  $17 $31 $5 $69
4 $17  $18 $34 $5 $74
5 $18  $20 $36 $5 $79


Lodging Bills

The lodging class covers lodging for in a single day stays, comparable to motels, motels, inns, resorts, and residences. A separate per diem price is about for each M&IE and lodging for every location. For instance, for the 2023 fiscal 12 months, the per diem charges for Atlanta is $163 for lodging and $74 for M&IE. For Chicago, lodging charges vary between $187 and $218, relying on the month, and the M&IE per diem is $79.

The GSA stipulates completely different charges for the primary and final day of journey. Although the total per diem for meals for a Tier 1 location is $59, the beginning and ending day by day price is $44.25. For a Tier 5 location, solely $59.25 will be claimed (versus most $79).

Per Diem Charges by Location

Per diem charges are primarily based on an space’s value of residing. Per diem charges in massive cities, comparable to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are increased than non-metropolitan areas as a result of items and companies in bigger cities are typically costlier. Lodging charges can even range by month in response to provide and demand. The best lodging per diem in New York Metropolis, for instance, coincides with autumn, the season that draws essentially the most vacationers and enterprise vacationers. Per diem charges are up to date yearly and turn into efficient Oct. 1, the primary day of the federal authorities’s fiscal 12 months.

Discovering Charges for Every Location

Ask your employer’s Human Assets or Accounting division for particular charges, or search for the data by visiting the GSA web site, the place you may search by metropolis, state, or zip code for the present fiscal 12 months (Oct. 1 by Sept. 30). If you wish to view the following fiscal 12 months or some other 12 months since 1997, search by state and choose the suitable 12 months from the drop-down menu. Click on “Discover per diem charges” to view the outcomes, that are damaged down by major vacation spot, county, most lodging by month, and meals and incidental bills (M&IE).

When you seek for an space that is not lined by GSA tables (e.g., Hawaii, which isn’t a part of the Continental U.S.), two hyperlinks will seem that can direct you to the suitable web site: the Division of Protection for non-foreign journey (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam) and the State Division for all international locations.

Employer Use of GSA Charges

Whereas most companies use the per diem charges set by the GSA, they’ll use different reimbursement strategies. For instance, employers can use the IRS high-low methodology, which establishes one flat price per diem for high-cost areas (e.g., New York, Chicago, and the District of Columbia), and one flat price for all different areas. 

Workers are sometimes anticipated to make use of the per diem price to cowl their bills and to maintain receipts for any bills that exceed the per diem price. In some circumstances, staff could also be required to return any extra funds to the employer. Final, employers use GSA charges to assist finances for journey; by understanding the place sure staff could also be touring within the upcoming 12 months, the corporate can forecast what their day by day expenditure shall be as soon as the per diem charges are set early within the 12 months.

Per Diem for Enterprise Bills (Mileage)

Per diem mileage charges for taxes are the charges established by the IRS that taxpayers can use to calculate deductible journey bills for tax functions. These charges are used to find out the usual mileage deduction that taxpayers can take for business-related journey utilizing their private automobile.

For the tax 12 months 2022, the IRS has established an ordinary mileage price of 58.5 cents per mile for enterprise miles pushed. This price was then elevated halfway by the 12 months to 62.5 cents and was additional elevated 3 cents to 65.5 cents per mile pushed in 2023.

The aim behind this per diem mileage price is to reimburse staff for prices incurred driving their private automobile for prices they aren’t in any other case reimbursed for. As well as, it might be unfeasible to calculate the precise quantity of depreciation, gasoline use, oil use, and different overhead value for each journey. As an alternative, eligible customers can merely use the mounted price for each eligible mile pushed.

The 2023 customary mile price for 2023 is $0.655 per mile.

Taxes on Per Diem Reimbursements

Per diem funds should not thought-about wages—and are due to this fact non-taxable—so long as they meet sure situations. You may be topic to taxes if any of the next are true:

  • Cost is greater than the allowable federal per diem price
  • You didn’t file an expense report along with your employer
  • Your expense report didn’t embrace the date, time, place, quantity, and enterprise function of the expense
  • Your employer gave you a per diem and did not require an expense report.

If any of the above conditions are true, your per diem shall be thought-about wages and shall be topic to revenue tax withholding and payroll taxes. The quantity shall be reported by your employer in your W-2 type. Whether it is simply that your per diem was above the allowable federal per diem price, solely the surplus quantity shall be thought-about wages.

To substantiate your journey and associated bills, you can be required to take care of a log that features the times you traveled for enterprise, the place you went, and the enterprise function of the journey. Word: in case your business-related journey lasts longer than a 12 months in a single location—even when it includes two or extra separate assignments—you might not be eligible for tax exemption beneath the per diem tax guidelines. To keep away from unfavorable tax penalties, seek the advice of along with your tax advisor earlier than embarking on an prolonged enterprise journey.

Per Diem As a Wage Different

As a result of per diem funds are non-taxable, some individuals could increase the query, “Can I settle for a decrease wage with per diem as a substitute of a better wage with no per diem?” The reply is “no.” Per diem insurance policies can’t be created in a fashion that permits what ought to be waged to be labeled as one thing else—on this case, per diem.

It’s because the intention of per diem isn’t further compensation however for a reimbursement of expenditures. It is assumed that these touring might want to eat a number of meals per day and spend cash on incidentals whereas they’re away from residence. These bills should not meant to incentivize a employee however slightly guarantee a protected, wholesome way of life can happen whereas touring for work.

Per Diem vs. Stipend

Per diem refers to a day by day allowance that an employer pays to an worker to cowl their bills whereas on a enterprise journey or task. In a really related method, a stipend is a hard and fast amount of cash that an employer pays to an worker. A stipend could also be paid regularly, comparable to month-to-month or weekly, or it might be a one-time cost for a selected challenge or task.

Stipends are sometimes utilized in tutorial and analysis settings. They’re often paid to college students or researchers to assist their residing bills whereas they conduct their research or analysis. Though each per diem and stipends could also be used to cowl residing bills, per diem is extra generally used for bills away from a house. As well as, a stipend is commonly a less-rigidly calculated quantity that merely awards a broad quantity for use for extra generic functions.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Per Diem

Professionals of Per Diem

There’s many causes corporations and people could desire per diem over precise expense reimbursement. By utilizing per diem charges, employers can set up a predictable journey finances and keep away from sudden bills which will come up throughout enterprise journey. That is very true for journey set additional into the longer term as per diem could also be set for all the upcoming 12 months.

Per diem eliminates the necessity for workers to maintain observe of and submit receipts for particular person bills. This reduces the executive burden on each the worker and employer. As a result of staff shouldn’t have to maintain observe of particular person bills, they’ll spend extra time centered on their enterprise targets through the journey.

Additionally by utilizing per diem charges, the tax reporting course of for each the worker and employer will be simplified. As an alternative of probably being in non-compliance with non-allowable precise bills having been reimbursed, it’s merely safer and extra easy .

Per diem will be seen as a extra equitable methodology of reimbursing staff for his or her journey bills. Per diem eliminates the necessity for workers to pay out-of-pocket bills and anticipate reimbursement. As well as, all staff get reimbursed the identical quantity (assuming they’re touring to the identical location).

Cons of Per Diem

Sadly, there’s additionally loads of causes corporations and staff would favor getting reimbursed for precise prices incurred. First, per diem charges could not cowl all bills incurred throughout enterprise journey. Because of this staff could must cowl bills out-of-pocket for something not lined by per diem however nonetheless essential for his or her journey.

Firms could not desire per diem as a result of charges are set primarily based on the situation of the enterprise journey. As a result of the character of every worker’s journey shall be completely different, corporations danger overpaying or underpaying staff as precise prices incurred will not often if ever be precisely the identical because the per diem quantity.

Although per diem charges merely and scale back danger in some areas, they enhance danger in others. Employers should make sure that their per diem charges adjust to tax rules and are affordable primarily based on trade requirements. Failure to take action might end in penalties or fines from tax authorities.


  • Creates extra predictable journey finances

  • Might scale back administrative burdens

  • Might enhance worker satisfaction as a result of simplicity and time financial savings

  • Promotes fairness by reimbursing everybody the identical quantity (assuming journey to the identical location)


  • Might end in staff needing to pay for non-per diem bills out of pocket

  • Might put corporations in danger if incorrect charges are paid

  • Usually overpays or underpays staff as actuals probably don’t precisely match charges

Is Per Diem a Wage?

No, per diem is a variable expense corporations pay to staff for bills incurred away from their residence. It is often solely incurred when employees are touring or on task. Per diem isn’t a hard and fast quantity, particularly contemplating that completely different geographical areas can have completely different per diem charges.

What Is the Most Per Diem Allowed?

The IRS will stipulate particular per diem charges for journey or bills incurred to high-cost areas. For instance, the 2022-2023 particular per diem charges included a most $297 for journey to high-cost localities.

Is Per Diem Reported to the IRS?

Per diem in extra of federally accepted per diem charges is handled as taxable revenue and is reported to the IRS as a part of regular revenue reporting. Regular per diem paid beneath an accountable plan isn’t included in an worker’s W-2.

Do I Must Gather Receipts If I Obtain Per Diem?

Seek the advice of your organization’s receipt coverage to greatest perceive whether or not receipts are required. In lots of circumstances, corporations attempt to keep away from requiring staff from sustaining receipts; as a substitute, they comply with merely pay government-approved charges for meals and travel-related prices. By doing so, staff can merely concentrate on their travel-related work and never want to gather receipts.

Is Per Diem Paid Out on Weekends?

Once more, it may be greatest to seek the advice of your organization’s particular coverage round per diem. On the whole, corporations typically have insurance policies in place to cowl meals and lodging for days labored, even on weekends. It could be essential for employees to attend a weekend convention; on this circumstances, per diem could be incurred over the weekend.

The Backside Line

Per diem funds present reimbursement to staff who journey for enterprise functions. Charges range by location and time of 12 months and are damaged down into two classes: lodging and meals and incidental bills (M&IE). So long as your funds don’t exceed the utmost federal per diem price, they’re non-taxable; if per diem funds exceed federal limits, any extra shall be taxed as extraordinary revenue.

Per diem charges could change yearly, and per diem tax legal guidelines will be sophisticated. Seek the advice of a professional tax specialist when you’ve got questions or considerations about your organization’s per diem coverage.

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