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Recordkeeping

What is meant by record-keeping for flight crew taxes?

Recordkeeping refers to IRS rules established in IRS Publication 463. If flight crew members have deductible travel, entertainment, gift, or transportation expenses, they must be able to prove (substantiate) certain elements of the aviation-related tax write off. This is accomplished with adequate recordkeeping techniques. If flight crews keep timely and accurate records, then the pilot or flight attendant will have support to show the IRS if their tax return is ever examined via an IRS audit.

What record-keeping rules apply to pilot & flight attendant taxes?

First, assume that a receipt is always necessary with two exceptions:

  1. When using a per diem calculation to calculate meal expenses
  2. When a travel expense is less than $75

For all other expenses related to a pilot or flight attendant job, a receipt is necessary.  But, even for those two expenses where a receipt is not necessary, a record is.  For the M&IE calculations, the record can be a crewmember's logbook, company layover sheet, or some appropriate document showing where the pilot's or flight attendant's layovers were during the year.

For travel expenses, the appropriate record should be a written or computerized log of the details of the expense being deducted.  In fact, any expense being deducted needs to be substatiated to protect the deduction if the return is ever audited.

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