Are School Lunches Tax Deductible?

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When you are ready to do your personal income tax return at the end of the tax year you may need to know, ‘Are school lunches tax deductible?’ The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows a lot of the expenses related to obtaining an education to be written off as a deductible on your income tax return. Although school lunches are a large part of school expenses, the IRS does not allow them to be deducted on your return. Other expenses associated with obtaining an education are, so let’s look at some of these expenses and how they impact your taxes.

When a student eats at school and purchases a meal from the cafeteria this is called a school lunch. The National School Lunch Program provides reduced cost lunches and free lunches to those students who qualify for them. This is a program that is funded by the federal government to provide nutritional meals at a low cost to students who qualify for the subsidized food program. If you pay the total cost of the meal, The Missourian reports that you will pay as much as $2.92 per day beginning in January 2010.

The IRS allows a deductible for lunches. If you pay for a lunch that is related to the cost of doing business that generates an income for you, then you can use that as a deductible for an expense of doing business. For example: If you take clients out to lunch as a part of doing business, then you can take the lunch off as a deductible. If you are required to travel as part of your business you can deduct the amount of the lunch that is not reimbursed by your employer. School lunches are not included in this tax code, even when the student is away from the home campus as part of school activities.

An IRS deduction that may allow you to defray the cost of the lunch program is called the Coverdell Education Savings Account. You can contribute to this account then withdraw the contribution to pay for qualified education expenses such as tuition, fees, computer equipment and software. This is a program for students in the K-12 educational system. If the tuition includes lunch, then you may find you have qualified for a deduction on your taxes. The maximum contribution limit is $2,000 per tax year.

There may be state tax deductions that are associated with the costs of education, including school lunches. For example: If you live in Louisiana there is a school tuition tax deduction for families who pay for private schooling for their child. A filer in Louisiana can deduct up to $5,000 per child in tax year 2010 for school tuition. Sometimes the tuition includes lunches for the student and thus, the filer receives a tax deduction when this is the case.

If you live in the state of Georgia you can make a donation to a private school for a tuition scholarship and the donation is tax-deductible on your state income tax return. The tuition scholarship may include free lunches for the student. ‘Are school lunches tax deductible?’ must be answered as no; most filers will not be eligible for deducting school lunches on their federal income tax return but may realize a deduction if living in a state that allows for deductions for private education expenses.

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