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Tax Deductions...Per-Diem

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Nov 26, 2001
Looks like the government made the Per-Diem calculation a bit easier for us this year. NO MORE QUARTER DAY'S TO WORRY ABOUT!!

Pub.463. Travel for days you depart and return. For both the day you depart for and the day you return from a trip, you must prorate the standard meal allowance. You can do so by one of two methods. METHOD 1: You can claim 3/4 of the standard day. METHOD 2: You can prorate using any method that you consistently apply and is in accordance with reasonable business practice.i.e, 3 day trip is now worth 2.5 day's, no matter when you start or finish your trip!

If you're thinking of having your tax return done professionally, check out www.Tax4crews.com. Their specialty is pilots and flight attendants. Great prices. It's all done through the mail and real convenient. You can request their "Tax Guide and Organizer" on the web site.

This per diem rule has always been the case. Now what'll really send you mad is deciding whether you should use the standard per diem deduction or itemize by city. You can use either one for the year, depending on which gives you a better deal.

For everyone: make sure you look at the rules regarding DOT employees. Believe it or not, that's what we are for the purposes of this rule. We can deduct a larger part of our per diem expenses and also get a larger standard rate. Keep in mind that this stuff only applies if you itemize your deductions and file an employee expense form. Good luck.

How does one deduct daily expenses when he receives perdiem? My understanding is that if your daily perdiem allowance is greater than your daily government allowance, you can't deduct a penny. All of us earn more perdiem than the government allowance, so how does everyone deduct daily expenses?

Not all of us get more per diem than the cities allowance. I only get one dollar per hour. A NY overnight is worth $46 and I only get $24.

You are correct that if you receive more in per diem than you can deduct, you get no deduction. But just because your rate is higher than the average doesn't mean that you can't deduct anything. You have to look at the whole year's deductions and total per diem before you can be sure. For instance, I didn't receive per diem in initial training. So even though my per diem rate is greater than the the deductible allowance, I can also include those 6 weeks or so when I received no per diem. That's roughly $1800 in unreimbursed per diem expenses, which goes a long way to offset all those nights when I stayed at a city that only cost $30 a night vs. $43 in per diem. I should be able to file per diem expenses for 2001, but probably not for 2002. Everything after initial training at JB pays per diem, so unless everywhere I stay has a $46 allowance (the domestic maximum), I'll receive more in per diem overall than the maximum deduction allowed, and get no deduction. Thanks for bringing that up.
re: Deducting Crashpad

You will get lots of "yes" and even "hell yes" on deducting crashpad. However, should you get audited, the IRS may very likely determine your crashpad to be your "tax home". Residency and tax home can be two different places. If you've had your crashpad in the same city/area for more than a year, it probably would fail in an audit. That does not mean thousands have not claimed their crashpads for years...

See http://www.irs.gov/prod/forms_pubs/pubs/p4630101.htm

Always figured we are glorified truck drivers, excerpt below is from IRS link above.

Example 1. You are a truck driver and you and your family live in Tucson. You are employed by a trucking firm that has its terminal in Phoenix. At the end of your long runs, you return to your home terminal in Phoenix and spend one night there before returning home. You cannot deduct any expenses you have for meals and lodging in Phoenix or the cost of traveling from Phoenix to Tucson. This is because Phoenix is your tax home.

Does anyone know of a good website that summarizes airline pilot specific tax rules? Maybe a site by pilots for pilots or something like that w/ gouge. I'd like to review a bit myself and hopefully pick up some tips on what I can/cannot deduct. I'm pretty ignorant at the moment. The tax4crews link above looks pretty good, but I'd like to do it myself if possible. Thanks for anything!

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