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Necessary Expense

What are necessary expenses?

Necessary refers to a "necessary expense" as defined in IRS Publication 463.  Necessary is one of the four tax deduction tests that must be passed in order for an employee business expense or travel expense to be tax deductible.  IRS Publication 463 defines a necessary expense as one that is:

...helpful and appropriate for your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary.

How do pilots or flight attendants determine if an expense is necessary for tax purposes?

For flight crew tax returns and airline tax preparation purposes, an expense is considered necessary if it is considered helpful and appropriate for airline flight crew employment tasks.  Furthermore, the aviation employer does NOT have to require the expense for it to be a legitimate airline-related employee business expense.  For example, assume a pilot purchases a calculator and keeps it in his or her flight case for performing weight and balance tasks.  The airline employer may not require that pilots carry a calculator, but the calculator could easily be determined to be necessary based on the above definition of a necessary expense.

See also, ordinary expense and personal expense.

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