01/09/2012 04:42 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST

Federal Tax Breaks On Business Meals, Entertainment Estimated At $180 M In 2011

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OTTAWA - There may be no free lunch, but a government-subsidized meal or NHL hockey ticket is another matter.

The Finance Department estimates that individuals cost the federal treasury $180 million by writing off meals and entertainment in 2011.

That's up from $125 million in 2006 when the current Conservative government took office.

Canadians can generally write off half of entertainment and meal expenses they incur while earning business or property income, and may deduct 100 per cent of the cost in some instances, such as staff parties.

The annual list of "tax expenditures and evaluations" cites the cost in lost revenue of every tax break, write-off and deduction offered by Ottawa.

The 18-page summary includes everything from the education tax credit — which has been falling or flat lining over the last six years — to the rising cost of tax-free savings accounts, which are estimated to have cost Ottawa $220 million in lost revenue in 2011.

Tax credits for partisan donors to federal political parties are estimated to have cost the treasury $32 million last year, more than the $27-million cost of the per-vote party subsidy that is being phased out by the Harper government.