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Nonprofit Law/Restrictions on use of per diem


We are a 501(c)(3) organization.  Are there any restrictions on using per diem for business travel meals for officers, directors, senior ministers, etc.?

See page 41 of IRS Publication 535 at starting in the first column under the heading "Accountable Plans" which the organization must have.  That section is written for employees but also applies to volunteers.
See the section under "Volunteer Officers/Workers" at,,id=131083,00.html
which is written specifically for Exempt Organizations and refers to that Publication 535.
---Start of Excerpt--
A plan under which an employee or volunteer is reimbursed for expenses or receives an allowance to cover expenses is an accountable plan only if:

   *  There is a business connection for the expenses;
   *  The employee/volunteer adequately accounts for these
expenses within a reasonable period of time; and
   *   The employee/volunteer returns any amounts of excess
expenses within a reasonable period of time.
---End of Excerpt--

Details as to the Accountable plan start on page 40 of that Publication 535. The chart on page 41 deals with per diem or mileage allowance up to the federal rate, and that is what you would be using (not any other "per diem" rates (unless, as you see there, if your per diem is greater than the federal rates, your organization would be considered then to be giving taxable compensation to the recipients).

Harvey Mechanic
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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