Actually, it's one or the other. The per diem rate as an employee is an itemized deduction, so it be combined with a mortgage, property taxes, charitable contributions, etc.
If you qualify as a transportation industry worker, you can use the DOT per diem rate of $63 ($68 outside the continental United States) from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. The rates were updated to $63 ($68 outside the continental United States) starting October 1, 2015.
The DOT per diem rate applies to each full 24-hour period you're away from home. For partial days where you're either leaving for work or coming home, use 75% of that rate (this would be $47.25 for inside the continental U.S., $51 outside if the full 24 hour rate is $63 /$68)
The IRS allows you to deduct 80% of your unreimbursed DOT per diem, but you only need to figure your unreimbursed per diem for the year – TurboTax will calculate the rest. Follow the instructions below.Instructions
To figure your unreimbursed DOT per diem, simply subtract your employer's reimbursement (if any) from the DOT rates shown above and multiply by the number of full days you were on the road. Then, add in any partial days you may have had.
For example: assuming the rate is $63 per day and your employer reimbursed you $23 per diem, and you were on the road in the continental U.S. for 100 full days last year, you would enter $4,000 ($63 minus $23 = $40, multiplied by 100 = $4,000). And if you had 10 more partial days that your employer didn't reimburse you for, you'd tack on another $472.50 ($47.25 multiplied by 10) for a grand total of $4,472.50.
Here's how to enter your DOT per diem in TurboTax:
- Open your return if it's not already open and search for this exact phrase: job expenses, employee (include the comma and space) and then click the "Jump to" link in the search results.
- On the Tell Us About the Occupation You Have Expenses For screen, enter your occupation (Truck Driver, Airline Pilot, etc.) and click Continue.
- On the Do Any of These Uncommon Situations Apply to John's Job? screen, check the You are in the transportation industry checkbox and click Continue.
- On the next few screens, you'll be asked about home office expenses, mileage, and other topics. Answer those questions as appropriate.
- Eventually you'll come to the Any Other Expenses? screen. On this screen, enter your unreimbursed DOT per diem in the field Meal expenses covered by Department of Transportation rules.