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Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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I have a concern/question in regards XXXXX XXXXX “Per Diem” rates

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I have a concern/question in regards XXXXX XXXXX “Per Diem” rates that are set by the federal government for each state. I work as a Wind Turbine Technician as a travel tech. My company pays me a certain amount (tax free) per day (per diem) for the lodging and meals. Now, according to the rates on the ( website), I wasn't receiving that amount. I was receiving less. Every State is different; some are cheaper to live in, others not so much. With that being said, “Am I supposed to receive the difference from government rate and my actual amount?” I’m just confused in this area. Not sure how I would report this or how to go about it. I was told by two of my fellow employees that I’m entitled to amounts not actually received for every day for each state. Is this true?


Hi and welcome to Just Answer!
I will address all your tax related questions - please elaborate and ask for clarification if needed.
Am I supposed to receive the difference from government rate and my actual amount?
There is no such law which would require employee to reimburse you for your travel expenses. Such reimbursements are very common - but are not required by the law. The only requirements are that your employer pays you at least minimum wages and overtime if appropriate.
All other payments are based on your employment contract.
However if your employer compensated you less than certain amount - you should be able to deduct your travel expenses on your tax return. There are certain rules and limitations - but generally - your unreimbursed travel expenses (and other business related expenses) might be deducted on your tax return.


I will help you to determine how to calculate and report your travel expenses if you need details.


How would I calculate and report travel expenses?

Lev and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you

If you are an employee, you may be able to deduct your work-related expenses as an itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A. as a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income floor.

If your employer reimbursed you or gave you an advance or allowance for your employee business expenses that is treated as paid under an accountable plan, the payment should not be shown on your Form W-2 as pay. You do not include the payment in your income, and you may not deduct any of the reimbursed amounts.
If your employer's reimbursement arrangement does not meet all three requirements, the payments you receive should be included in the wages shown on your Form W-2.You must report the payments as income, and you must complete Form 2106 and itemize your deductions to deduct your expenses.
If you were reimbursed for travel or transportation under an accountable plan, but at a per diem or mileage rate that exceeds the federal rate, the excess should be included in the wages on your Form W-2. The amount up to the allowance would be reported in box 12 of your Form W-2. If your actual expenses exceed the federal rate, you must itemize your deductions to deduct the excess.


You can use the actual cost of your meals to figure the amount of your expense OR you can use the "standard meal allowance" method as an alternative to the actual cost method. It allows you to use a set amount for your daily Meals & Incidental Expenses (M&IE), instead of keeping records of your actual costs.

If you use the standard meal allowance method for meal expenses and you are not reimbursed or you are reimbursed under a nonaccountable plan, you can generally deduct only 50% of the standard meal allowance. If you are reimbursed under an accountable plan and you are deducting amounts that are more than your reimbursements, you can deduct only 50% of the excess amount.

The standard meal allowance is the federal M&IE rate. For travel in 2011, the rate for most small localities in the United States is $46 a day. Most major cities and many other localities in the United States are designated as high-cost areas, qualifying for higher standard meal allowances.

For information about the federal per diem rates, refer to Per Diem Rates -


There is no optional standard lodging amount similar to the standard meal allowance. Your allowable lodging expense deduction is your actual cost.

Let me know if you need any help with reporting.