Tax breaks for business meals could help struggling restaurants, bars

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 4:53 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - An order of food with a side of tax deductions.

Through 2022, business professionals could be able to completely expense a meal from their federal taxes.

The latest Coronavirus relief package includes a revision from the previously stated 50% deduction.

“In the workplace, I’m sure, it’s just a huge boost to morale like ‘hey, we’re going to have lunch and have a real good lunch,’” said Luis Rosales, owner of The Urban Deli.

The updated policy would be a big help to Rosales who owns the restaurant off of South Virginia Street in Reno. He and his wife opened their doors in August of 2019.

The Urban Deli relies heavily on nearby business professionals to survive. But the pandemic quickly put the Rosales family on their heels.

“We were very nervous. Very, very scared,” Rosales said. “Business dropped off significantly.”

Just a few miles north, off of California Avenue, The Cheese Board is also feeling the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Sales have dropped 50% or more in some cases,” said Krista Phillips, who co-owns The Cheese Board with her sister.

The Phillips sisters bought the business in 2017. Filling corporate catering orders is how The Cheese Board usually starts its day.

“(These business professionals) are the people who allow us to live this life and run this business and have the lives and dreams that we have,” said Phillips.

In order for The Urban Deli and The Cheese Board to survive they need money.

There are benefits and drawbacks of supporting a restaurant and bar through a tax break. On one hand spending money helps these places make it through the pandemic. On the other hand, fewer tax dollars means less relief in other areas.

Before deciding to expense a meal talk to your tax consultant or CPA to see how it will affect business.


Ways to support local businesses and earn a gift card from the Gattuso Coalition and Yelp Reno:

Reno Loves Local, a local campaign working to create a groundswell of consumer support for Reno businesses, has announced an opportunity for consumers to win gift cards to area restaurants, retail shops and service shops through its new engine: the #RenoLoveLetter campaign. The new initiative asks participants to write “Love Letters” praising locally-owned Reno businesses they appreciate as a simple, zero-cost means to elevate those entities digitally to additional customers. Participants will be entered to win one of 100 gift cards that range in value from $25 - $100 from establishments. The business that receives the most Love Letters will also win a grand prize of its choice of either a business development package (valued at $1,000) or $1,000 in gift cards purchased from said winning business that will then be donated to local heroes via a nonprofit, charitable organization or a direct gift.

“The Reno Love Letter campaign hopes to show that shouting out the positives and sharing the love with local businesses where everyone can see is incredibly rewarding,” said Michael Tragash, community manager for Yelp. “But we know it takes effort, so we’re rewarding those who participate with chances to experience new-to-them shops, restaurants and services that make up this beautiful community we call home.”

The contest is sponsored by the Yelp Elite Squad (YES!), a diverse community of local writers, photographers and adventurers who share their experiences at local businesses in reviews and photos that showcase what our community has to offer and guide consumer decisions. The contest requires individuals to enter by writing a #RenoLoveLetter and posting on either Facebook, Instagram (including the @renoloveslocal handle and the #RenoLoveLetter hashtag) or through a form at Letters are encouraged to include positive experiences from Reno businesses, whether present day or fond memories, favorite products or even exemplary employees who have gone above and beyond.

“Great reviews are received as love letters by local businesses, and owners have shared how the sentiments have helped them carry on through these difficult times. At the same time each love letter shared also has the power to influence the decisions of consumers and help others discover new businesses,” said Tragash. “I’ve had a front-row seat to watch how the trusted members of the Yelp Elite Squad lead by example, showering local businesses with love and inspiring community support through their reliable, high-quality reviews and photos. These actions are incredibly meaningful to local businesses and most importantly, they drive dollars through their doors. With that in mind, we’re asking the community to invest in this activity to help lift up local business.”

The #RenoLoveLetter contest is also sponsored by ShortStack, a digital marketing platform that allows parties to create, monitor and manage social media giveaways and contests. ShortStack is providing the premium level of service to the campaign non gratis out of a desire to be a part of improving the local economy.

“I’ve always been an advocate of eating and shopping locally but during this unprecedented time especially, we’re grateful for this opportunity to further invest in our community,” said Doug Churchill, co-founder of ShortStack. “Getting ShortStack involved with Reno Loves Local was a no-brainer for us.”

The #RenoLoveLetter initiative follows the campaign’s release of seven zero-cost actions individuals can take to support local businesses as well as the #RenoLocalPledge, a set of five considerations consumers in the region are voluntarily committing to as the area works through the economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions and closures. At this stage, nearly 50 citizens have taken and posted the #RenoLocalPledge, including prominent figures like Debbie Torres McCarthy (About Town Deb) and former Reno City Council candidate Britton Griffith.

The contest is open to Nevada residents only and ends January 25, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. and winners will be notified within 14 days of the contest’s conclusion. For a list of complete contest rules, visit

As multiple incentives are planned, the best way to learn of updates is to follow @RenoLovesLocal on Facebook and Instagram.

The Reno Loves Local campaign is a coordinated effort between Bryon Evans Film, Electrikk Digital and the Gattuso Coalition, and collaborating with Yelp Reno. Funding is made possible by the City of Reno via the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To learn more about the effort, visit its social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. For media inquiries, contact Rachel Gattuso at or (775) 336-9453.


About Reno Loves Local:

Reno Loves Local hopes to incentivize the Reno community to use the power of their dollars and endorsements as a means for saving the robust and diverse small business community that has been growing in Reno, Nevada. In the same way the community strives to be more inclusive for all, Reno Loves Local seeks to lift up small businesses during and after the measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. For the most up to date incentives, visit

About ShortStack:ShortStack is a digital marketing platform built for engagement, lead collection and marketing automation. The self-service platform is used to create unique contest landing pages and quizzes, run social contests, choose winners, send emails and analyze results - all from one place. From instant win and photo-vote contests to hashtag contests and simple sweepstakes, users can build mobile-responsive landing pages in minutes. To learn more about ShortStack, visit

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