Our simple guide for the rules and regulations of the German tax office will make sure nothing goes wrong with saving money with tax benefits when feeding your team.
Only active working days can be subsidized
Sickness and vacation days as well as workfree weekends cannot be subsidized
Food subsidy does not apply for business trips shorter than 3 month
Instead, sustenance cost (Verpflegungsmehraufwand) can be subsidized
Food for home office work can be subsidized
Part-time workers and working students can also receive subsidizes meals
Food subsidy is admissible for all meals and food items meant for immediate consumption. The German tax office also includes any drinks had with a meal to be part of the subsidized sum. Essentially, foods and condiments meant for preparing meals do not fall into this category. Vegetables for a nice salad, bread rolls and cheese or similar products can't be subsidized as they aren't considered full meals.
That's why we advise caution in the supermarket!
Everyone working from home can nonetheless benefit from tax benefits. Among other benefits, food subsidy can be an effecive incentive to eat well and healthy even when working from the home office. After all, every employee should be able to enjoy a good lunch break. Regardless of the workplace, the subsidy amount and same regulations apply.
In Germany, a work break is mandatory for shifts longer than 6 hours. But regardless if employees work only for an hour or two and don't take breaks, everyone can receive a tax-free food subsidy once per day. That means that both working students and part-time workers can get an affordable meal same just like their colleagues working full time.
The tax office does not offer food subsidies for business trips shorter than 3 months. Instead, employees in Germany can receive higher sustenance expenses (Verpflegungsmehraufwand) when travelling for work within Germany.
-For trips longer than 8 hours an expense of 14 EUR per employee and day can be granted.
-For trips longer than 24 hours, an expense of 28 EUR per employee and day can be granted.
*generally, the subsistence expense will only apply if the working hours exceed 8 hours.
Business trips within foreign countries have different subsistence expense rates. The rates are set following the living expenses and inflation of the specific country.
To make using tax benefits easier, the German tax office has a special '15-day rule.' It makes meal subsidy for up to 15 days per employee and month free of the record obligation usually linked to each subsidized item. With this rule, the tax office generally assumes sickness and vacation days, as these aren't allowed to include subsidization. While not all working days will be covered this way, a lot of bureaucratic effort can be avoided. A lot of companies choose to subsidize this blanket subsidy for 15 days to keep things simple. And even with this blanket amount, employees save 98 EUR per month.
Spare yourself time-consuming collecting of paper vouchers and receipts. The tax office allows digital food vouchers to be used when buying meals and accepts digital receipts. For that, certain apps or delivery services like Smunch will make using food subsidies easier.