Flight Crew taxes made simple
Are you an airline pilot or flight attendant? Do you pay taxes?! If so, you might be missing out on a large tax deduction for airline crew members, the per diem deduction.
What's a Per Diem Calculation?
Most airline pilots, flight attendants, and corporate flight crews are paid per diem while they are at work. Your company pays you a certain amount, no matter where you are. However, the government has established per diem rates depending on what city you are in. The difference between these rates and what you are getting paid is tax deductible!
Great, your thinking. But how do I figure out what per diem rates the government uses for the cities I have had overnights in? That's where we come in...
The Difference can be Substantial
Your per diem calculation will depend on what cities you often lay over in, and how much your company has reimbursed you already. The difference can be substantial, and often results in several hundred dollars of credit on your income taxes!
Using our calculator, you can determine exactly how much the government allows for the cities you have overnighted in.
Take a Tour
Use the green arrows below to step through the tour.
Entering Your Trips
This is the bulk of the work to obtain your per diem calculation. The most common way to get your trips for the year is through your airlines scheduling software, but some flight crewmembers maintain logbooks.
In the example shown, this user has entered a 3 day trip that started on the 22nd. The first and last days of the trip get pro-rated to 75% per IRS guidelines.
Getting your total
As you enter your trips for the year, you will see your per diem calculation (or PDC) grow. If you choose to pay for our service AFTER entering your trips, you will see question marks. (Hover your mouse over the total on the right to see)
Many crew members choose to enter their trips prior to paying, but for this example, lets assume you have paid already. This user has a PDC of $13,203.75.
About the total
In our example, our user entered all their trips for the year and came up with a per diem calculation (or PDC) of:
What is the significance of this number? This is the amount, based on the cities you overnighted in, that the government thinks you should have been reimbursed in per diem. Lets see how this plays in to your taxes...
What you were reimbursed
Now lets take a look at what you were reimbursed. There are generally two ways to get this amount.
The first and most reliable way is off your W-2, which is pictured. Different companies generate different W-2's, but in this example it is in box 12 under the "L" code. If this isn't available on your W-2, check your end of year paycheck for the amount.
For the year, this user was reimbursed $4,783.29 in per diem.
Tying it together
At this point, you have your per diem calculation and your reimbursed per-diem:
$13,203.75 - $4,783.29 = $8,420.46
Now you have the difference between what the government thought you should have been reimbursed, and what you actually got reimbursed. In our example it is $8,420.46
But wait... there's more!
The bad news is, the IRS isn't going to let you take the full amount of the $8,420.46 as a deduction. Whats the good news? The IRS treats flight crew members special, and allows transportation workers to take 80% of the difference instead of the normal 50%.
$8,420.46 x 80% = $6,736.37
This is essentially how your per diem calculation (PDC) is going to impact your taxes as far as deductions go (The IRS does require you to subtract 2% of your gross income off of your work expenses).
So many figures
Overwhelmed with numbers? Don't be, our system makes it easy. Remember, it all starts with the "PDC"! In our example:
This is the number that gets the flight crew portion of your taxes started. This is the number that you find using our website. This is your PER DIEM CALCULATION!
Ready to get started? Sign up now, it's quick and easy!
Why Choose Us?
We aren't the only per diem calculator, but we think we are the best. Here's why: