While airline pilots and flight attendants may take advantage of many tax deductions for flight crewmembers, not all of the expenses that flight crews incur for their airline employment are tax deductible. The following are some examples of expenses that flight crewmembers cannot deduct. The list may surprise you.
Getting nails done, paying for haircuts, and buying shaving cream are examples of nondeductible expenses that many flight crewmembers might think are deductible. The common argument is that employers have certain appearance standards, and those expenses are necessary to meet those standards. The issue is that those are considered personal expenses, which are expenses that you would get even if you did not have the job. This of course leads to the inevitable argument that if it weren't for the airline job, you would let yourself go and settle for an appearance that rivals that of the uni-bomber. While we would love to see people be able to write off these items, unfortunately it isn't something that a tax auditor is likely allow.
For a computer to be deductible, it must be expressly required by your company as a condition of your employment. In addition, it must be purchased by you and not reimbursed. Lastly, a computer, even if it ends up passing those first two tests, must be depreciated. For these reasons we suggest not even bothering attempting to write off the cost of a computer.
One of the items that pilots and flight attendants often attempt to write off is the expense of a wristwatch. Unfortunately, this is not allowed anymore because IRS Publication 529 of the tax code specifically says that wristwatches cannot be deducted for any reason.
Under normal circumstances, commuting expenses are nondeductible. This includes parking fees, tolls, subways, trolleys, and vehicle expenses. As a crewmember, if you drive to the airport, park your car, and work out of that airport, your commuting expenses are definitely nondeductible. If you drive (or take a bus, subway, or trolley) to the airport, then fly from that airport to another city to work out of that city (also called your tax home), that is also nondeductible. There is generally only one circumstance that allows you to deduct commuting expenses, and that is if you get displaced or receive a temporary duty assignment (TDY). Under this condition, you could deduct commuting expenses if the displacement or TDY is temporary and not indefinite. Temporary is defined as realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) less than one year. If it is not temporary, it is indefinite, and therefore nondeductible.
Vehicle expenses are usually nondeductible as well. They are similar in nature to commuting expenses, and generally follow the same rules. If your commuting expenses are deductible, then your vehicle expenses are deductible. If your commuting expenses are nondeductible, then neither are your vehicle expenses.
What happens if I deduct an expense that is non deductible?
Perhaps you have written off these expenses in the past. Most likely nothing will happen if you did, but if you are ever audited, the expenses could be removed and you may owe a penalty and interest for the difference. It is unlikely that a few errors like those mentioned would trigger a red-flag with the IRS, so the best thing you can do is just make sure you do it correctly in the future. If you did it wrong in the past, you could seek the advice of a tax preparer, should you deem it necessary, though most would probably tell you not to worry about it.
These are a just a few of the expenses that professional flight crewmembers attempt to deduct when they shouldn't. For the most complete, comprehensive list of expenses that are deductible, visit EZPerDiem.com, login, and search the Expense Processor. There you will find all sorts of items that professional flight crewmembers may deduct.
EZPerDiem helps pilots and flight attendants with their flight crew taxes by:
If you do not benefit, we will provide a 100% refund!