IRS Provides Guidance on the Full Deductibility of Restaurant Meals

One of the sensual and ineffable pleasures of life is a satisfying meal, whether prepared at home or partaken of at a restaurant. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) temporarily expanded the pathway to this pleasure by providing for the full deductibility of business expenses paid or incurred from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022 for food or beverages provided by restaurants. Full deductibility is set forth in Section 274(n)(2)(D) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). Prior to the CAA, the deductibility of restaurant meals, like all other food and beverage business expenses, was subject to a 50 percent limitation. Since the CAA did not define “restaurant,” the precise scope of full deductibility remained uncertain. In Notice 2021-25, the IRS defined “restaurant,” and its definition removes a significant degree of this uncertainty. A restaurant means a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises. A restaurant does not include a business that primarily sells pre-packaged food or beverages not for immediate consumption, such as a beer, wine, or liquor store; convenience store; drug store; grocery store; kiosk; newsstand; specialty food store; or vending machine. The 50 percent deduction continues to...