On my Facebook home page today I saw someone make a comment on one of my friend's pages (he is an ATC) that he should claim the DOT meal allowance which would allow him to deduct around an additional $14,000 from his taxes. She said that a few controllers she knew at ZDC claim it and even though they got audited everything still worked out fine.
Does anyone know anything about this deduction? I've been doing research into it and it appears that there is a special standard meal allowance rate if you work in the transportation industry. You can deduct $59 per day. Most of the info from IRS publications states that the meal allowance is typically for people who travel away from their "tax home" (like truck drivers), but it appears to include those subject to "hours of service" limits. This includes "Certain air transportation workers (such as pilots, crew, dispatchers, mechanics, and control tower operators) who are under Federal Aviation Administration regulations."
What I can't tell is if you definitely have to travel away from your place of work in order to take advantage of the deduction or not. From the way I'm understanding it after reading a bunch of stuff, it seems to me that since controllers are subject to hours of service limits, it doesn't matter that we don't travel and we are still allowed to take the deduction.
I'm thinking about trying to claim it, but all of these IRS publications are making my head spin. Any help would be appreciated if anyone knows anything about this or has any experience with it!