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Per Diem

What is per diem with regard to pilot & flight attendant tax preparation?

Per diem is a monetary allowance that a pilot or flight attendant's employer might give the flight crewmember to reimburse them for meals and incidental expenses that are incurred when they are on duty. 

There are two forms of per diem:

  1. Taxable per diem -  Included as gross income
  2. Non-taxable per diem - Strictly a reimbursement for M&IE expenses

What is the difference between per diem and the per diem deduction?

While per diem is the money an employer pays a pilot or flight attendant to reimburse the cost of meals while at work, the so-called per diem deduction is way of determining what those meal expenses should be in the first place.  It is often called the per diem deduction because federal per diem rates are used to generate a value for meal expenses instead of using actual costs for meals.

The per diem rates used for the per diem deduction should not to be confused with the per diem provided by an employer to offset M&IE expenses.

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