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How to Enter Red-Eyes, Multi-day Layovers, & International Trips into the Per Diem Calculator

travel taxes international trips jet window

Red eye trips are flights where an airline crewmember departs late in the evening and lands early the following morning at a rest location. International trips and trips with multiple-day layovers are similar when it comes to entering the trips into EZPerDiem. For per diem calculator entries, red-eyes can lead to a little bit of confusion, but once understood, they are fairly easy to enter. links CONUS and OCONUS per diem rates to layover cities so a proper M&IE calculation can be performed and a flight crewmember can quickly get their per diem deduction figured. To understand how to enter red-eye layovers into, first assume a normal trip (not a red-eye). A Normal Trip: Assume a pilot named John is based in CLE. John leaves on May 2, 2008 for a trip where his first overnight is ORD. He spends the night of May 2nd in ORD and takes off on May 3rd and flies a few legs, ending on a layover in DCA on day 2 (May 3rd, 2008). On day 3 (May 4th, 2008) John flies a few more legs and ends up back home in CLE (John's domicile or tax home). In that case, John would enter:

normal per diem calculator trip

This is fairly straightforward. Each layover location is simply entered next to the date that the layover happened. When the Calculations Page of the Per Diem Calculator for this trip is viewed, it will look like:

normal per diem calculator trip

A Red-Eye Trip: The red-eye trip is slightly different. Assume Sarah, an international flight attendant, flies a red eye-trip beginning on late on May 2nd and ending on May 4th. Assume Sarah is based in IAH, and she leaves IAH on May 2nd at 10:00 pm local time. She is enroute all night and lands in LGW (London, Gatwick) at 8:00 a.m. Houston time (2:00 p.m. London time) on day 2 of her trip (May 3rd). Sarah remains in LGW for most of the day on May 3rd. Sarah leaves for home May 3rd at 11:00 p.m. Houston time (5:00 am London time) and arrives back in IAH on May 5th, at 10:00 am. While this might seem a little confusing, the simplicity of how works makes entering this trip extremely simple. All Sarah has to do is look at this trip as a typical three-day-trip. Sarah left IAH on May 2nd and returned on May 4th, so it is without a question a 3-day-trip. The only part of this situation that can be a little confusing is where to enter the overnights. Because Sarah was in the air at midnight when the trip began, her rest location will be the location she rested upon landing on May 3rd. That would be LGW, so LGW gets entered on May 2nd. Because Sarah didn't leave until late on May 3rd and there were no other layovers on the trip that she incurred rest, the rest location for May 3rd will be LGW, as well. Finally, on May 4th, Sarah finished her trip in IAH, so IAH is the location entered for May 4th. This will look like:

normal per diem calculator trip

On the corresponding Calculations Page, it would look like:

normal per diem calculator trip

Notice that the rate used ($181) is the same for all three days. This makes sense because the rate on the last day of a trip uses the city on the previous day for the per diem calculation. In other words, LGW is used to calculate the M&IE expenses on day 3 (May 4th, 2008) even though the actually location stayed was IAH. This is exactly the way IRS Publication 463 guides taxpayayers who travel on how to calculate their M&IE expenses. As you can see, entering a red-eye trip is not real difficult once you understand how works. Simply make sure the number of days gone for a given trip match the number of days that display on the Airport Code Entry Page, and ask yourself where your rest locations were. Following those two simple rules will ensure that the per diem calculations work out properly.

What's all this about?

EZPerDiem helps pilots and flight attendants with their flight crew taxes by:

  • Calculating your per diem deduction using two methods!
  • Helping you find flight crew tax deductions you are not aware of!
  • Organizing all the deductions on a Final Tax Report!
  • Making it easy for you to give the report to an account or enter into TurboTax!

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