Frequently Asked Questions:
Why can’t I deduct parking? Commuting to and from work is not deductible in any profession (including flight crew). Parking is an expense related to commuting and it is not deductible. The people who can deduct parking are those that go to multiple workplaces in a day – like a salesperson who drives from business to business. People driving from home to work don’t get to deduct parking.
This is a quote from a 2012 tax court case against a flight attendant where the IRS makes it very clear that parking for a flight attendant is not deductible: “Petitioner explained that this amount represents the cost of parking her car at Tampa International Airport. It is well settled that parking fees a taxpayer incurs as a part of his or her commute are nondeductible personal expenses. See sec. 262; see also Commissioner v. Flowers, 326 U.S. 465, 470 (1946); Anderson v. Commissioner, 60 T.C. 834, 835 (1973). Accordingly, petitioner may not deduct parking expenses.”
What if I didn’t keep track of all my trips for the year? Can you still calculate my per diem? We love when you fill out our Flight Calendar – a calendar of the year where you put the airport codes for each date you overnighted on duty. However, if you work for SW they archive those after 3 months so if you don’t print every month you can’t get them. It’s not a big deal. We can do an estimate based on the reimbursement code on your W2. Because about 500 of our clients are SW we know how they reimburse and the estimate will be pretty accurate. If you ever were to be looked at by the IRS we would love for you to have the payroll reports, trip sheets, or some other record to show them, but we can live without them. If you are AA and fly international it’s difficult for us to do an estimate, but AA lets you print all your trips for last year, so no problem there.
What if I already ran a per diem report from a service? You can send that in with your documents and we will use it to prepare your return.
Why can’t I deduct makeup, nailcare, shoes, crash pads, etc.? Some items are required, according to my manual. Unfortunately, these items are classified as “personal” by the IRS. Prior to 2012 we could get away with deducting some of these, but the precedent is set for the IRS to disallow them. This is a quote from a tax court case against a flight attendant where the IRS makes it very clear that they will not allow these deductions: “Grooming expenses (i.e., hair and nail maintenance) are inherently personal expenses, and amounts expended for grooming are not deductible regardless of whether an employer requires an employee to be well groomed. Hynes v. Commissioner, 74 T.C. 1266, 1292 (1980). Accordingly, petitioner is not entitled to a $520 deduction for grooming expenses.”
What is the cost? (Prices increase during the month of April each year). Our New Client Flight Crew base cost is $150. That includes per diem calculation and itemized deductions. If your spouse has a W2 include it in your packet and we will keep the price at $150.
If you are self-employed,receive the Earned Income Credit, or if you are a landlord (own a rental) the price goes up $50 for each of those, so Flight Crew with a 1099 for self employment or independent contractor would start at $200, etc.
The more organized you are the lower the price is within the range. So, someone that fills out the forms completely (or pretty well) and doesn’t send receipts, or a spreadsheet for us to tally up will stay at or near $150. If you send us a hot mess of paper it could be $200 or more.
The price includes year-round questions by email and phone, within reason, and basic audit protection. If you get a letter we answer it for you; if you have an examination we help you get the proper documents together and if you need someone to talk to the IRS for you we do a power of attorney for you. If this becomes a big project we will need to apply reasonable chargs, but that is rare.
Do you work with people that also have a small business? Yes, Jenya is an Enrolled Agent and we do non-flight crew taxes as well. We have many self employed clients and handle rentals, depreciation, foreign earned income, foreign tax credit, etc. The only entities we do not work with is corporations and partnerships, but we have some fantastic referrals if you need. Just email us.
What forms do I need to fill out to work with you? You need to fill out the Flight Crew Packet. It includes a 3-page New Client form for all of your standard tax info (only 2 pages if you don’t have kids), the Flight Crew Expense Worksheet where you list your expenses, and the Flight Calendar, which you would only use if you keep track of your overnights. (See per diem question at top of page if you’re SW and don’t print out your payroll reports).
After I fill out your forms how do I get my documents to you? Once you’ve received your W2s, etc:
1. Please read the forms carefully and fill out anything that pertains to you. Sign the New Client Form (or the Recurring Client Form if you’re already a client),
2. Either make photocopies of your tax documents (no receipts) and send them through the mail, or
3. Scan all of your documents into 1 PDF and upload it to the portal (Fedex/Kinko’s is a good resource to help you scan and/or send your docs). Please don’t send pics from your phone or scan each page individually.
Once we receive your documents we will notify you. When we complete the return we will invoice you through our portal. When you’ve paid your invoice we will tell you your refund/liability amount and review the return with you. Then we’ll efile. You will have our services for the year – you can email or call anytime with questions.
How do I get into the portal? New Clients: just email or call us with your name and social security number so we can open a portal window for you.
How to get to the portal for Current Clients:
You can email us and ask to have a temporary password put in, or:
1. Go here and click on “Need a password or forgot password”.
2. Put in the email and Social Security Number (SSN) of the primary taxpayer – not the spouse (just look at last year’s tax return if you’re married and can’t remember who the primary is).
3. You’ll get an email with a temporary password. Copy that and go back to the sign-in page.
4. Enter your SSN and temporary password.
5. Once you’re in, click on “Upload Documents”
Let us know if you have any questions or any issues with the portal or anything else.
What happens after I upload my documents to your portal? We will email you when we’ve received it. As we’re working on it we will email or call you with questions. Then we’ll email you again when we’ve completed the work. At that time we’ll ask you to pay your invoice in the portal.
Once that’s paid we’ll email you with the details of your return (refund amount, etc) and offer you the option to either review it with us over the phone/screen share or to give us permission to efile.
If you’d like a phone/screen share review we’ll schedule a time with you.
Once you give us your permission we efile (Federal and state) and upload copies of your returns to the portal. You will have access to those 24/7 throughout the year.
So, it’s pretty convenient and easy. We’re also available year-round for any questions about taxes or financial planning, so when you become a client you get great customer service.
How long does it take for you to do my tax return? It should take less than 1 week from when we receive your complete paperwork. If you would like faster turn-around we have a $75 rush charge that will move you to the front of the queue.
Do you need my return from last year if I’m a new client? We don’t need it, but having it will help us do a few things: compare your refund amount to last year to show you why you got less or more, double check that we have all of the interest, dividends, etc. that you may report each year in case you’ve forgotten something, carry forward capital losses if you have any, etc.
If you are a landlord we definitely need last year’s return to follow the depreciation schedule.