Regulations for Food Subsidies

The benefits of food subsidies are worth investing a bit of time to understand the specific regulations. That way, companies and employees save a lot of money in the long run. We'll help keep it short!

Overview for Tax Office Regulations

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


Generally, only one meal per day can be subsidized. Employers may choose to give this voluntary bonus in addition to the salary. Employers are free to choose which meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner is made cheaper with the food subsidy. Different rates apply for the meals.


Learn more about benefits in kind and how to apply food subsidy

Admissible Food Items

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!

Cheaper meals for the Home Office

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.

Part-Time Workers and Working Students

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.

Business Trips and Sustenance Expenses

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.

sustenance expenses germany

15-Day Rule

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.

Digital Food Subsidy

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.

Learn about digital receipts and delivery services, that directly include food subsidies for your company

Smunch Reviews with