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Above-the-Line Deductions

What are above-the-line deductions?

Above-the-line deductions are tax deductions or adjustments that modify a taxpayer's gross income and are used to calculate a taxpayer's Adjusted Gross Income or (AGI).  The so-called "line" is AGI (Adjusted Gross Income).  Therefore, tax deductions that occur before AGI is calculated are called above-the-line deductions.  Any deductions that occur after AGI is calculated are called below-the-line deductions (either itemized deductions or the standard deduction).

Above-the-line deductions are used in the following basic calculation:

Gross Income - Above-the-Line Deductions = Adjusted Gross Income


How to above-the-line deductions affect a pilot or flight attendant's tax return?

Above-the-line deductions include a variety of write-offs that help reduce a taxpayer's tax liability.  Some of the above-the-line deductions that might help pilots and flight attendants are:

  • Rental Property Deductions (Schedule E)
  • Alimony Payments
  • IRA Contributions
  • Schedule C (Business Losses)
  • Student Loan Interest Paid
  • Moving Expenses
  • Stock Losses

Are flight crew work expenses considered above-the-line deductions?

Note that the employee business expenses that an airline pilot or fight attendant deducts are NOT above-the-line deductions.  Employee business expenses are one component of an airline pilot or flight attendant's itemized deductions, and itemized deductions are below-the-line deductions.

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