Pilots, flight attendants, and flight crew are allowed to deduct costs and expenses related to their business travel. Generally, the actual cost of meals, lodging, and incidental travel costs may be deducted, subject to certain limitations, providing detailed records are maintained (called the "actual cost" method of reporting).
As an alternative, the employee may use travel allowances established by the federal government to determine the deduction (called the "allowance" method of reporting). Under the allowance method, the flight crew member is only required to be able to prove where they were, and that they were traveling as a requirement of their work. The allowances are published annually by the General Services Administration for travel destinations within the Continental U.S. (CONUS & OCONUS), and by the Secretary of State's office for international travel. The government allowances are subject to the same limitations as if the actual cost and expense reporting method was used, except that the traveler is not required to keep any records of their travel costs.
Generally, in the aviation industry, most employees and independent contractors use the allowance method of reporting their travel costs and expenses. Under either method, your travel cost & expense deduction is reduced by your Per Diem pay or travel reimbursements. Your Per Diem pay from your airline is reported on your W-2 in Box 12, identified as type L. In some circumstances, it is found on your final pay stub for the year.
The Wolcott & Associates, P.A. Per Diem Calculator makes it easy to calculate your annual Per Diem tax deduction. Simply enter your Full and ¾ Days, by three-letter airport identifier, and the system does the work. At the end of the year, the system provides you with a detailed print out of the applicable cities, and the total Per Diem Allowance for each day.
Our Per Diem Calculator database includes over 4,000 airports worldwide, and the applicable domestic or international standard rate for each. For regional airports serving multiple cities, like JFK, a list of cities will pop up, so that you can select your specific overnight location. If you enter an airport not in the database, we are automatically notified by email. We will add the airport & standard rate to the database, and notify you by return email that it has been added.
Note: We do not include any per diem hotel allowances. In our experience, the airline or employer typically pays for the hotel on behalf of the crew member. If this is not the case for you, contact us by email and explain your circumstance.
Our per diem calculators are designed to help pilots and flight attendants to obtain their maximum federal per diem tax deductions from their day and over-night travel. The expense calculators remind pilots, flight crews, and flight attendants to log their travel-related purchases such as uniforms, suitcases, and other travel-related items.
Do not submit travel-related receipts or other records to Wolcott & Associates, P.A. Keep all receipts for five(5) years in the event of IRS audit. Note that travel costs and expenses are included in the annual 1040 tax return as itemized deductions. If your standard deduction exceeds your total itemized deductions, it is usually more advantageous to claim the standard deduction.