The following articles contain a lot of useful information for flight crew taxes. If you have questions that are not answered in these articles or in our FAQs don't hesitate to contact us.

Click to return to Articles list

I've got my Per Diem Calculation. Now What?

per diem tax confusion pilots flight attendants is a website that helps pilots and and flight attendants quickly calculate one of the most lucrative, yet misunderstood tax deductions that flight crewmembers are eligible for. This article will not only clarify what "the number" is that helps you calculate, but it will also provide you guidance so you use it properly in your tax returns. What is "the number" that calculates? "The number" that we keep referring to is the one displayed at the bottom of the Calculations Page.

M&IE Calculation on

"The number"varies in amounts. For some people, "the number" is a few thousand dollars. For others, "the number" is over $20,000. A lot of variables affect just how high "the number" is. But first, let's stop calling that number, "the number." Let's call it its true name. The M&IE Calculation. M&IE refers to two different values:

  1. Meals
  2. Incidental Expenses

Obviously, flight crews travel as a part of there job. While they travel for their job, they incur travel expenses, of which meals and incidentals (M&IE) are just one example. Those meals that flight crewmembers eat while on the job (except for day-trips) are tax deductible. Because it is so difficult for flight crewmembers (or anyone else who travels) to keep every receipt for the meal expenses while they travel, the IRS allows another way of accounting for the amount that pilots and flight attendants spend on them. And, that is where comes in. Essentially, the IRS allows taxpayers who travel for their work to use the CONUS and OCONUS per diem rates to determine their M&IE expenses. Flight crewmembers can do that if they have a record of where they had their layovers. IRS Publication 463 explains how the so called "per diem deduction" should be calculated in detail, but in a nutshell, the per diem deduction is determined by recording every location and date that you had a layover, then looking it up in the per diem tables provided by the GSA, the Department of State, or via IRS Publication 1542. Once that is done, you apply the rules contained in IRS Publication 463, then you put the result on your tax forms. Whew! alleviates all of the steps in the above paragraph. Because has linked virtually every airport in the world to the respective CONUS or OCONUS per diem rates, all the flight crewmember has to do is enter where they stayed into the web-software, and the M&IE expenses are calculated instantly online, saving you hours and hours of frustration. Okay, what then? You've done that, but now you are asking yourself, "What do I do with the M&IE calculation that calculated?" The answer to that question depends on how you are preparing your taxes. Here are the possibilities:

  1. You are using TurboTax, TaxCut, TaxAct, or something similar
  2. You are having a tax preparer prepare your taxes
  3. You are doing your taxes by hand. I.E. manually working with IRS Form 1040 and IRS Form 2106.

Most people fall into options 1 and 2. Not too many people do their taxes by hand anymore, but if you are, the printouts will tell you where on IRS Form 2106 the numbers should go. Personal Tax Software Users: If you are using personal tax software such as TurboTax or TaxCut, we have reviewed them and prepared guides detailing where the M&IE calculations (among other airline-related employee business expenses) go. TaxAct is another personal tax software package that has become popular, and you will likely see a review for that, too. As of the time of this writing, though, the following tax software guides are available:

They are both free for you to use, though the content is unofficial. In other words, the guidance in those two guides is simply meant to aid you, not replace professional tax advice.

Pilots and Flight Attendants Using Their Own Tax Preparer: One of the biggest benefits that offers pilots and flight attendants is that it allows them to still use their current local tax preparer, and ensure that the aviation-component of their tax returns is prepared properly. The printouts that generates are designed to easily instruct your tax preparer on how to insert the calculations.

Notice we use the plural ("calculations" rather that "calculation"). That is because does more than just calculate the per diem deduction. The Expense Processor calculates your other aviation-related employee business expenses. The Expense Processor is very simple-to-use calculating checklist of the Ordinary (often deductible) expenses that flight crewmembers generally incur. Using the printouts that provides from the bother the Per Diem Calculator and the Expense Processor, a tax preparer should be able to quickly understand your aviation-related-expenses.

Also, for anyone wanting a little extra service, the EZPremium option might be just what you are looking for. It does everything that the EZStandard service does, but it also provides a completed 2106 Form that you can bring straight to your tax preparer. The benefit of this is that the tax preparer doesn't need to do anything with your aviation-expenses. He or she simply uses the IRS Form 2106 that we prepare and send to you to include in your tax returns. is the fastest growing, most popular per diem calculation and aviation-tax-preparation website around. But, our success is only measured on how well we help flight crewmembers with their aviation-related-taxes.

This article and the many other articles we have written are all geared to helping you get more money back in your taxes, year-after-year.

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!

Money-Back Guarantee

If you do not benefit, we will provide a 100% refund!

Try it, Risk Free