I had a client that owned his own business and he wanted to buy an RV so he could go on vacation with his family. He wanted to know if he could write off the cost of the RV as a business expense if he put a sign about his business on the RV while he traveled around the country. The answer to that is a flat out no. The IRS is all over that idea and they don’t like it.
But, it may be possible to write of an RV as a business expense if you really do use the RV for business. For example, let’s say you have clients in another city that you regularly visit. When you are visiting those clients, you normally need to spend time in a hotel. So, maybe the RV might be a good choice for you. You could travel to the location in the RV and sleep in the RV instead of a hotel.
So I said you might be able to claim it—this isn’t a rock solid deduction. You’ve got to be able to prove it’s truly a business expense. There are a couple of things you must absolutely do.
- You must have a log of all of your miles you drive in the RV. Not one of those, oh I drove some business miles and write it down later—a very serious, a very real mileage log. Over 50% of the miles you drive must be used for business to try to take the RV as a deduction.
- You must also keep a log of all the nights that you sleep in the RV. Same rule—over 50% of your nights sleeping in the RV must be for business.
- You must also keep your business trips shorter than 30 days so that the RV counts as transient lodging. That means I can’t buy an RV and drive down to Florida for the entire tax season and spend my summers in Missouri. (Well I could, but I wouldn’t be able to write off the RV as a business expense.)
And the main point you must absolutely keep in mind—do not use the RV for entertainment. No business parties on the RV. The IRS is pretty strict about that. Entertainment facilities are not tax deductible (things like swimming pools, hunting lodges, and bowling alleys.) Make sure that your RV is for lodging or travel—not for entertainment.
So although my client with the sign idea couldn’t claim the RV as a business expense just for putting a sign on it, if he chose to drive the RV on his business trips and stayed in the RV overnight instead of a hotel—he might be able to claim part of the RV expenses for his business, as long as his business use was more than his personal use.
Remember, trying to claim an RV as a business deduction is kind of “out there” and highly likely to be audited by the IRS. You’re going to want to have really good documentation and a good accountant to back you up on this one.