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September 16, 2020

2020-2021 federal per diem rates under the high-low substantiation method now available

In Notice 2020-71, the IRS released the per diem reimbursement rates that will apply effective October 1, 2020 (or, optionally, January 1, 2021). The per diem reimbursement rate for high-cost areas for lodging, meals and incidental expenses decreases from $297 to $292 and from $200 to $198 for low-cost areas. There were also numerous changes to the list of areas that qualify as high cost.


High-cost area

Low-cost area

Lodging, meals and incidentals

$292 (was $297)

$198 (was $200)

Meals and incidentals only

$71 (no change)

$60 (no change)

Incidental expenses only

$5 (no change)

$5 (no change)

The special meals and incidental expense (M&IE) rates for taxpayers in the transportation industry remain unchanged from last year at $66 for any locality of travel in the continental United States (CONUS) and $71 for any locality of travel outside the continental United States (OCONUS). (See Revenue Procedure 2019-48.)

The per diem rates for each locality of travel in the continental United States (CONUS) can be found on the U.S. General Services Administration website. Per diem rates for travel outside of the continental United States (OCONUS) are available on the U.S. Department of Defense website. Foreign per diem rates can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

For additional details on high-cost localities of travel under the high-low substantiation method, see the attached PDF.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Workforce Tax Services - Employment Tax Advisory Services
   • Debera Salam (
   • Kristie Lowery (
   • Kenneth Hausser (


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