DOT Meal Allowance Tax Deduction?

admin

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Jun 11, 2008
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But isn't our "tax home" our place of employment. So if we are not travelling away from our tax home how can we take the deduction?
 

bosox1207

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Jun 18, 2008
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But isn't our "tax home" our place of employment. So if we are not travelling away from our tax home how can we take the deduction?
Exactly....I had my taxes done last week and my CPA said I wasn't eligible for precisely this.
 

mjh55404

Senior Analyst
Jul 3, 2009
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OKC
I've been taking this deduction for years. So do the majority of my coworkers. Some CPAs say it's OK, some says it's not. Half of us here go to the same CPA just for that. All I do is tell them how many days I worked in the year and they do the rest.

If this is a deduction that we are not allowed then I seriously doubt we would get charged with evasion. Probably just have to pay it back plus interest/penalty.
How much do you guys pay the CPA to do your taxes?
 

mjh55404

Senior Analyst
Jul 3, 2009
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OKC
I paid mine less than $100. I didn't have any issues using the credit.
That is not bad... I have several ugly tax issues this year so I am thinking of ditching my DIY tax fun. Moving, OKC stuff and other credits like this are making me think of going to a CPA.
 

eqfan592

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Mar 28, 2010
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The controllers I've spoken with at work all take this deduction as well, and have done so for years. I plan on doing it this year if I can figure out how. :p
 

mjh55404

Senior Analyst
Jul 3, 2009
996
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OKC
Turbo Tax it is under emplyment expenses for transportation related employees.

CPA's here in the bay are 400$+ for personal taxes.
 

mbalunda

Epic Member
Jan 31, 2009
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The controllers I've spoken with at work all take this deduction as well, and have done so for years. I plan on doing it this year if I can figure out how. :p
Turbo Tax has a section for it, it's actually quite easy. The hardest part is figuring out how many days you worked for the year and the per diem for your area.
 

BeaconSlash

Trusted Member
Aug 19, 2011
367
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Why doesn't NATCA hire a tax attorney for some odd number of billable hours to investigate this on behalf of all air traffic controllers?

It would be nice if there could be a buck-stops-here answer. Sincerely... who wouldn't want to pay a metric f***ton less in taxes? I avoid it only because I'm scared of an audit, and I don't have any sort of documentation that solidly supports a position one way or the other... just heresay from people that say they have or haven't taken the deduction based on various clips of regulations.

I know taxes are complex as hell, but there has to be a correct answer for something that coule theoretically save controllers tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their career.

Sick of seeing this debated and discussed every year. This should be figured out, officially.
 

ladiesolo

Trusted Member
Jun 19, 2009
388
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FWIW:

I worked for the IRS as an auditor of individual tax returns prior to being hired by the FAA. I have read into the tax law, publications, and form directions. While on duty and required to be available for lunch, you may deduct the amount the GSA tables would allow for lunch (whether you ordered out for lunch, bought it at a work cafe, or brought it from home). The form directions specify this may be deducted by DOT employees who possess a CTO. For center employees, it is reasonable enough to say you don't have a CTO, but are a DOT employee that must be available for work during your lunch break.

I would also like to add there is info available on the web as to HOW MUCH to deduct. Deducting the entire per diem for a day would not fly if I were auditing you. Use this:
Meals and Incidental Expenses ( M&IE) Breakdown

To determine the M&IE rate in your area, use this:
Perdiem Rates Look-Up

So, if the per diem for the location of your facility is $46 per day, then you may deduct $11 for lunch per day you are required to be available to work during your shift. Let's say one on a traditional schedule works 20 days a month: $11 x 20 x 12 = $2,640 The form allows you to deduct .8 of that as a DOT employee (as opposed to .5 for everyone else). If you work evening shifts, use the dinner amount. If you work day and evenings, use both for the appropriate shifts worked. Note: I would not use the enitre $46 for each day worked. TO ME, it doesn't meet reasonable expenses for one meal while on duty.
 

ladiesolo

Trusted Member
Jun 19, 2009
388
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Why doesn't NATCA hire a tax attorney for some odd number of billable hours to investigate this on behalf of all air traffic controllers?
NATCA has nothing to do with you or anybody else filing their tax return. WTF do they care? It's a non-union issue.
 

UNDgrad06

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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Peachtree City, GA
I might be wrong but NATCA doesn't hire a lawyer to help with your DUI. They might help you not get fired from your job because of a DUI but they aren't going to help you personally with your DUI litagation.

IMO, this is one of the reasons why NATCA isn't great. They are OK but not great. My local spends 25% of the yearly funds on a Christmas party and booze. Alot of cash for one night, that not even everyone can attend. Also, then 4 years I have been here, we have had two major financial problems with memebers stealing from the Union.

In regards to the OP, I don't see how this can be claimed on your taxes but if you want to do it then good luck.
 

pappyquebec68

Newcomer
Feb 28, 2009
1
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Portland, OR
to get back on track,

after talking to a few of the "older" guys at work this is how i'm approaching this:

i took out ALL LEAVES and official times from 2011(to include the 3 days for CFS) and came up with about 1668 hours(208 days) actually worked. Of that, i went with 40% swing shifts(+/- 83 days), 40% day shifts (+/- 83days) and 20% mid shifts.(+/- 43 days) that's that's the way my schedule rolls. I multiplied each by their respective lunch/dinner/breakfast rates for my locality and multiplied each by .80, added them, and came up with +/-$3,700. i used breakfast rates for the mids figuring that was the most logical way to do it in-case the IRS hassles me later down the line. I'm sure i could have gone with the dinner/lunch rate for all, but being my first time claiming this, i'm kinda sketchy about how it'll go over with the IRS. $3700 doesn't seem like it'll raise too many flags for the IRS. if it goes through, maybe i get more ballsy next year.
 

rojostyle

Newcomer
Jan 11, 2009
13
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You can NOT file form 2106 and get a tax deduction. Go ahead and ask a tax pro yourself if you don't believe me. I asked two different tax pros at two different firms and both said no for the same reasons.

First being; You are not away from you "tax home" which is defined as; An individual's primary place of work or residence. This is used when determining tax for travel or transportation expenses.
Read more: Tax Home Definition | Investopedia
Secondly; "You are not exceeding your hours of service limits." While at work for 8 hours and going to taco bell for lunch...

Anyone who does file for it is flat out scamming the system.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
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Arizona
If that's the case, who would ever qualify? How many CTOs ever leave their "tax home" when working in their tower? With very rare exceptions like temporary tower situations, it's not like we go moonlighting in other towers. That would be covered under normal travel meal rules anyway.

I don't think the deduction is intended as a travel deduction. Its in the same general area as travel deductions because most of the meal rules are based on travel conditions, with few exceptions - including this one. Remember the main rules: DOT hours of work limits, CTO, can be called back to work at any time. Sure sounds like a tower to me. Not sure about going beyond CTOs into other/all controllers.

I'm sure there are thousands of controllers that never get the chance to go to taco bell or anywhere else during their watch. That must be nice. By the way, the line is "Subject to the DOT hours of service limits..." not "Exceeding..."

Hardly a scam. After cutting 20% off the top, a very big chunk consisting of 2% of total gross pay is also subtracted. This isn't really a very big deduction at all. For comparison, the standard deduction will result in a bigger overall deduction for those that don't normally itemize.
 
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