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Actual Cost Meal Deduction

What is the actual cost meal deduction vs. the per diem deduction?

The actual cost meal deduction refers to one method which may be used for taxpayer's to write-off meal expenses from their taxes.  Flight crewmembers can write-off their meals and incidental expenses (M&IE expenses) while traveling for their airline employment on IRS Form 2106 (titled Employee Business Expenses).

Why is it a bad idea for pilots and flight attendants to use the actual cost of meal expenses?

If a flight crewmember were to use the actual cost meal deduction to deduct M&IE expenses, the pilot or flight attendant would have to keep documentary evidence such as a receipt and accurate records for all of their M&IE expenses while they were traveling for work.  Because of the complications associated with this method of deducting M&IE expenses, the IRS allows an alternate method.  M&IE expenses can be written off via a method that is sometimes referred to by tax preparers as the per diem deduction. Generally, that gives airline crewmembers a higher deduction than the actual cost meal deduction. EZPerDiem.com specializes in calculating an instantaneous, online per diem deduction for crewmembers.

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