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"I am self a employed art dealer and was recently out of the country for 5 weeks. During that time, on my trip, I found a new artist and purchased some paintings abroad. The IRS might argue it was a vacation on which I purchased art, and I might argue it was a business trip that I was able to enjoy. Additionally, my wife was along for part of the trip. She oftens gives me
valuable input in selecting art. I have no idea what kind of deductions, for myself and or my wife, are reasonable and fair in the IRS' eyes. Also, it's not practical to obtain receipts in third world coutries for many things. Is there any kind of standard per
diem one can opt for?"

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It sounds as though the business connection on your 5 week trip was almost random. But in any event, unless the primary purpose of your trip were business (which is not supported by your facts) no airfare, lodging or meal expenses would be deductible. The exception would be for any direct expenses (e.g. taxis or other local transportation) in purchasing items for your business or in seeing an adviser or consultant while there.

A taxpayer who combines business with pleasure travel can deduct expenses at his destination which are properly attributable to business activities. Similarly, expenses attributable to the taxpayer's personal activities are not deductible even if the primary purpose of the trip relates to the taxpayer's business. Regs. §1.162-2(b)(1). Rev. Rul. 56-168, 1956-1 C.B. 93.

See also Foreign Allocation Rule when when your personal percentage is less than 25% of your trip


See Rev Proc 98-12

Employees and self-employed individuals may use the federal M & IE (meal and incidental expenses) rate for the locality of travel for purposes of computing the amount allowable as a deduction for meal and incidental expenses incurred for travel away from home in lieu of using actual expenses. The expenses are deemed substantiated if the employee or self-employed individual substantiates the elements of time, place, and business purpose of the travel expenses. An employee may deduct the amount only as an itemized deduction subject to the 50% limitation on meal and entertainment expenses and the 2% floor on miscellaneous itemized deductions. A self-employed individual may deduct the amount in determining adjusted gross income (i.e., as an above the line deduction), subject however to the 50% limitation.
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