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Requirements for Entertainment Bills Have Been Loosened

Wining and dining is a bone of contention between the tax officer and the tax payer. The Tax Court Düsseldorf made the rules less strict with its judgment of December 7, 2009 (re 11 K 1093/07 E).


The tax court ascertains that entertainment costs can also be claimed as a deduction, when no official form is used but self-drafted documents with following details exist:

  • place,wining-and-dining
  • date
  • invited participants,
  • reason for entertaining,
  • amount expended.

Your local Finanzamt often makes an issue when only "non-official", self-drafted documents are produced. When they otherwise meet the requirements of §4 V cl. 1 no. 2 EStG, then such receipts are eligible for deduction - so the opinion of the court. This remains true even when the entertainer, i.e. you, is not mentioned on the receipt. This will typically be the case when you pay with your credit card and lost the original invoice from the restaurant. It is permissible to subsequently add this detail.

Prevailing case law of the BFH does not insist that the host is also mentioned on the restaurant bill - unless the amount exceeds € 150. Then you must have all details on the invoice.


This article is exclusively discussing the income tax side of the problem. The VAT issue is evident. No proper invoice means no input tax (i.e, no refund or crediting of the VAT).

Puzzled with the requirments? Steer yourself out of trouble when you buy your personal "eBrochure on Invoicing Formalities pursuant to VAT law".