Can Air Ticket Tax Be Deductible When Filing a Tax Return?

by Cam Merritt

    The Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to deduct certain taxes they pay. Airline passengers pay taxes on their tickets, but these taxes are not among the deductible taxes except in limited instances. When the price of an airline ticket is deductible from your taxable income, so are the associated taxes.

    If you are self-employed and you buy a plane ticket for business travel, the entire cost of the ticket is a deductible business expense. Taking the deduction reduces your business's reported profit, which in turn reduces the amount of income you will report on your tax return. Report the cost of the ticket -- including all taxes and fees -- on Schedule C, Line 24a, "Travel."

    Employees who travel as part of their jobs typically will have their travel costs paid by their employers. But if you paid for work-related air travel and did not get reimbursed, you may be eligible to deduct the ticket cost, including the taxes and fees, as an "unreimbursed employee expense."
    To do so, you need to itemize your tax deductions using Schedule A. The ticket cost goes on Line 21. (You must also fill out Form 2106, which details your travel expenses, and include it with your return.) On Schedule A, unreimbursed job expenses get lumped in with several other miscellaneous deductions. The schedule instructs you to add all these deductions together, then subtract 2 percent of your federal adjusted gross income. The remainder is your allowable deduction.

    If you travel to search for a new job in your current occupation, you can treat the cost of the airline ticket, including the taxes, as an unreimbursed employee expense, using the same rules that apply to other unreimbursed employee travel. You can do so even if you don't actually find a job during the trip.
    However, job-search travel is not deductible if you are looking for a job for the first time, if you are looking for a job in a different occupation or if you had been out of work for a substantial period of time before you took the job-hunting trip. The IRS does not specifically define "substantial," which means that claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    If you have to move to take a new job, you may be able to deduct the full cost of plane tickets purchased for the move. In general, for moving expenses to be deductible, your new workplace has to be at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your previous workplace was, and you must move within a year of starting the new job. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of airfare for moving you and your family from your old location to your new one. (Pre-move house-hunting trips are not deductible, however.) To claim the deduction, file Form 3903 along with your tax return. Airline ticket costs, including all taxes and fees, go on Line 2, and your total deductible moving expenses go on Line 26 of Form 1040.

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    About the Author

    Cam Merritt has been a professional writer and editor since 1992, specializing in articles about spectator sports, personal finance and law. He has contributed to "USA Today," "The Des Moines Register" and the "Better Homes and Gardens" family of magazines and websites. Merritt has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Drake University.

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