Corona situation: Meal benefits can be temporarily used for delivery costs

News, 3/24/2020

In order to ease the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus, the Tax Administration has made temporary changes to its decision on fringe benefits. The change concerns the use of meal benefit to pay for food delivery, as employees may have to work from home and may not be able to use their regular meal benefits in workplace cafeterias.

The new decision will be in force from 24 March 2020 to 31 August 2020.

During this time, employees are allowed to use their meal benefits to pay for the delivery costs of their meals in addition to the meals themselves. There have been no changes to the amounts or other terms of meal benefits. The employer may offer a maximum of €10.70 in meal benefit for each working day.

Example: An employee has a meal benefit of €10.70 per working day. She orders lunch from a restaurant with home delivery. The lunch costs €7.70 and the delivery costs €3. The total cost of lunch is €10.70. The employee is allowed to use her meal benefit to pay for the lunch and the home delivery. 

Example: An employee has a meal benefit of €10 per working day. He orders lunch from a restaurant with home delivery. The lunch costs €8.90 and the delivery costs €3.50. The total cost of lunch is €12.40. The employee is allowed to use €10 of his meal benefit to pay for the lunch and the home delivery. He must pay the remaining €2.40 himself.  

As more people are working from home, other questions regarding meal benefits have also been raised. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions. 

Can I use my meal benefit to buy frozen foods or microwave meals?

You cannot use the meal benefit to buy pre-prepared products from a grocery store.  

However, you can use specialised forms of payment – such as a lunch voucher, meal card or mobile application – at the store’s service counter to buy meals to go, such as salads or stuffed baguettes.  

Can I use multiple lunch vouchers to pay for my meal? 

You can only use one voucher per one working day.  

What if my employer only offers meal benefits at the workplace cafeteria? 

If your workplace cafeteria is closed due to the corona situation or because all employees have been ordered to work from home, you cannot use your regular meal benefit.  

However, your employer may choose to pay you additional compensation in these exceptional circumstances with which to buy lunch from somewhere else and eat it at work or at home.

In this case, employees are not considered to receive meal benefits for the days during which they cannot use the workplace cafeteria. The additional compensation you receive for these days is therefore considered taxable wages.