Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Tax @$%#%^ question

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Feb 22, 2002
Trying to get my taxes together and have a question if meals are deductible. I have read the IRS www site and they have a publication Topic 511 that I believe says that if I work out of NYC but live in Dallas I cannot deduct my expenses. This is also what my accountant says but I don't believe him, yet. I receive a pittance for my per diem and am willing to subtract that from a standard IRS allowable rate. But if I can't claim that where is the benefit to me? I used to work for a company that paid a reasonable per diem while I was on the road but if I pay my own expenses I don't get anything? Please tell me I am misunderstanding this. Any input/opinions are appreciated.
Residence for tax purposes

That sounds like your problem. You live in Dallas, which meets the test for your home. Your N.Y. crash pad is not your tax residence.

I'm not a C.P.A. but have a B.S.B.A. in Accounting and did my own returns for many years, including the years I was flying.

I'd still check the site recommended above. Also, ask your accountant about residence for tax purposes.
I also agree with the kudos given to tax4crews. They did a much better job for me compared to past companies that I have used. They were quick, and saved me some money. They also have some of the best prices on the web.

Good Luck!

Second hand info originating from a aviation tax specialist: You can deduct ALL of your housing/lodging/food/travel expense, etc.

My personal opinions:
As an airline pilot, you are an employee subject to the transportation hour employee something or other (this is a question that my TurboTax asked me). You use all of your meal expenses, and then, if your perdiem is included in your W-4, you have to cut this amount in 1/2 as only 50% of meals are deducted. If your perdiem is not listed on your W-4, you must list it seperately, subtract the perdiem from you food costs, and then divide the remainder by half.

The crashpad/residence thing is interpretation. If you read all of the IRS stuff, you can't deduct it if you are based in one city and work there. If you are based in DTW as a pilot, do you do all of your work in DTW? Or, do you not fly all over the place while working? Do you sometimes report for work at a location other than DTW? Are you guarenteed to be permanently in DTW, or can your airline move you to another base? At our airline, some pilots have had 5+ bases in 1 year, all involuntary moves.

If you don't use an aviation tax professional, I would reccoment TurboTax (there are other computer programs). It's pretty easy to answer the TurboTax interview questions, with a lot of help if you need background/tax regs to figure out how to answer.

Good Luck!

I know that everyone is trying to be helpful here, but it is best to read the irs publications, the alpa website, or consult a tax preparer who is familiar with transportation industry taxes.

You may for year 2001 deduct 60% of expenses for meals and incidentals (50% is for non-transport workers). The per diem deduction issue is pretty complex, so read carefully and ask for help if you're not sure. Look at form 2106 and the instructions for it. I am not a tax pro, so I won't give any advice here at the risk of being incorrect. I'm slogging through my taxes now as well.

In general, you can deduct "meals and incidental expenses" (M&IE) when you are on a trip, working. You're on a trip from the time you check in on the first day until the time you are released on the last day. In other words, that time during which you receive (non-taxable) per diem that involves an overnight trip. Don't bother with taxable per diem because expenses for day trips are not deductible. Time spent at the crash pad between trips is not really work related (though we all know we wouldn't be there if not for work) because you chose to live out of the area, not the company or the government. Therefore, your crashpad, your commute and related expenses are not deductible. That's controversial, but generally accepted.

So if we're talking about M&IE deductions, there are several ways to go about it, but I won't get into the details. Suffice it to say that if you're not willing to go through some reasonably significant effort to figure it out you'll have to pay someone else to do it for you. The good news is that if you don't want to either pay someone or take the time get the last dollar out of it, and you're domestic only, there is a quick method of getting a most of the benefit from your M&IE deduction. You can take the standard daily deduction and be done with it.

Latest resources