What does "You are in the transportation industry" mean?
You are in the transportation industry if your job:
- Directly involves moving people or goods by airplane, barge, bus, ship, train, or truck, and
- Regularly requires you to travel away from home, and
- Usually involves travel to areas eligible for different standard meal allowance rates during any one trip.
Long-distance (OTR) truck drivers, flight attendants, and commercial airline pilots are classic examples of transportation industry workers as defined by the IRS.
The IRS gives transportation industry workers a special standard daily meal allowance as follows:
- The standard daily meal allowance is $63 ($68 if traveling outside the continental United States).
In addition, transportation industry workers can deduct 80% of their unreimbursed allowance (per diem) instead of the usual 50%.
What types of transportation-related jobs don't qualify?
Work that doesn't directly involve moving people or goods does not qualify as a transportation industry job, even if the company you work for is in the transportation business. This excludes jobs like:
- Air traffic controller;
- Office worker (clerical, sales, management, engineering, etc.);
- Assembly-line or manufacturing;
- Employee (other than a vehicle operator or crew member) of an airline, railroad, trucking company, shipyard, etc.;
- Working at a bus or train station, gas station, truck stop, harbor, or airport;
- Cruise ships (their primary purpose is tourism as opposed to transportation).
In addition, transportation industry work requires that the employee regularly spends nights away from their tax home, which the IRS defines as the city or general area where you work, not just your physical dwelling. This eliminates jobs like:
- Transit worker;
- School bus driver;
- Taxi, limo, or shuttle driver;
- Local truck driver (mail, delivery, garbage, mining, etc.)
- Paramedic or EMT;
- Helicopter, crop-duster, or bush pilot;
- Baggage handler or loading dock worker.