Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

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Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby admin on Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:38 pm

As you know Pilots N Paws is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning that those that contribute to it may be entitled to take a charitable deduction in accordance IRS regulations. Recently, one of our volunteer pilots raised a question as to whether the FAA would consider taking a charitable deduction in the amount of the cost incurred in performing a rescue flight to be “compensation”. If deductable expenses were considered compensation in the view of the FAA, then rescue flights could not be conducted under Part 91 and the pilot would be in violation of §61.113 by exceeding the limits of his or private pilot certificate. Through our FAA counsel in Washington D.C. Pilots n Paws sought an interpretation from the FAA’s Chief Counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. on this question and we have been advised that taking a charitable deduction when performing a rescue flight would not be considered compensation by the FAA. While you should consult your tax advisor regarding tax matters, we can advise you that taking a tax deduction equaling your rescue flight operating expenses, and receiving no other compensation for your efforts, is not inconsistent with FAA regulations. Here is some additional background information on the question.

The FAA’s guidance on what constitutes compensation or hire is clear. The term “compensation” has been interpreted by the FAA as meaning the receipt of anything of value. One does not need to profit from the enterprise or even receive funds. Despite this broadly stated position the FAA has, at least since 1993, formally established as a matter of policy an exception regarding tax deductibility under certain circumstances. This policy is today found in FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 4, Chapter 5, Section 1, Paragraph 4-922 that states:

The FAA’s policy supports “truly humanitarian efforts” to provide life flights to needy persons including “compassionate flights”. This also includes flights involving the transfer of blood and human organs. Since Congress has specifically provided for the tax deductibility of some costs of charitable acts, the FAA will not treat charitable deductions of such costs, standing alone, as constituting “compensation or hire” for the purpose of enforcement of 14 CFR part 61, § 61.118 [now §61.113] or Part 135. Inspectors should not treat the tax deductibility of costs as constituting “compensation or hire” when the flights are conducted for humanitarian purposes.

There was some concern that the use of the word “humanitarian” could be interpreted as only pertaining to the saving of human lives or to the alleviation of human suffering, if one considers the dictionary definition of the term. As Pilots N Paws pursues a program that is concerned with the welfare and alleviation of suffering of animals, rather than humans, Pilots N Paws, sought and obtained a ruling that the FAA policy on charitable deductions applies to pilots who may take a deduction for expenses associated with the performance of animal rescue flights, should they wish to do so and as permitted under Internal Revenue Code.

If any local FAA Inspector takes a contrary view, please let us know and we will, through our FAA counsel see that the Office of Chief Counsel contacts your local FSDO to advise them of the FAA’s position on this question of FAR interpretation.
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby flypiper on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:36 am

The FAA at Teteboro, NJ came to several "Pennies for Pounds" and "Dollars for Pounds" charitable fundraisers the Ninety-Nine's coordinated to obtain pilot info. This ensured all expenses were deductible with no hassle to the pilots.

Truthfully, I do no recall what the money was raised for in the events, just that they were there helping (yes).
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To love
What death can touch.
To love, to hope, to dream,
And oh, to lose........
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby richclover on Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:58 pm

Great! Thanks :) That confirms the reply I got from AOPA re: charitable flights.
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby Jon on Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:05 pm

We are gratified that this issue is forever behind us. Simply stated the cost of PNP flights can be treated as charitable donations. How and to what extent that cost is reported on the tax returns is solely up to the individual pilot and his tax preparer since all of us differ in how we use our planes and how we treat those expenses. One thing is clear however and that it is the pilot's sole responsibility to support the deductions and we urge copies of the PNP posts requesting the transport and all other documentation be retained by the pilots.
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby Vuksanovic on Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:39 pm

I think it's important to note that fuel costs can be assisted with for these flights as a shared expense by the FAR's interpretation. Other associated costs need to be deductions as donations.
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flights

Postby Jon on Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:46 am

The issue of "shared costs" is a slippery slope and I would urge pilots and rescues to fully understand what is allowed and what is not in the regulations. We are not the airplane police and trust pilots will obey all applicable regulations.

I woud like to make a general point. Animal rescues are the most giving people I know (besides pilots). They work 24/7 to save animals and it has been my experience they use all their financial resources to do so. I do not know of any rescues that are in a position to buy my fuel, even if it was permitted. As pilots I would hope we recognize that if rescues had enough money to buy our fuel they would have enough money to pay for commercial animal transports either by ground or commercial flights. My average fuel cost per transport is significantly more than the cost of transporting an animal via the new pet airway so I will not even consider asking or even suggesting a contribution.

This is the applicable F.A.R. My interpretation is that animal transports are not an activity that that allows a pilot to accept compensation for expenses. Each pilot should familiarize him or herself with the appiicable regulations, and all rescues should understand that offering compensation may place the pilot in violation of the regulations.

§ 61.113 Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command.
(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft.

(b) A private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if:

(1) The flight is only incidental to that business or employment; and

(2) The aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire.

(c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

(d) A private pilot may act as pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight described in §91.146, if the sponsor and pilot comply with the requirements of §91.146.

(e) A private pilot may be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses that are directly related to search and location operations, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees, and the operation is sanctioned and under the direction and control of:

(1) A local, State, or Federal agency; or

(2) An organization that conducts search and location operations.

(f) A private pilot who is an aircraft salesman and who has at least 200 hours of logged flight time may demonstrate an aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer.

(g) A private pilot who meets the requirements of §61.69 may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.

[Doc. No. 25910, 62 FR 16298, Apr. 4, 1997, as amended by Amdt. 61–110, 69 FR 44869, July 27, 2004; Amdt. 61–115, 72 FR 6910, Feb. 13, 2007]


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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flig

Postby usmcshooter on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:24 pm

It saddens me when the regulations are regurgitated without true context. As pilots, we all have access to the FARs. Luckily, here is a much better clarification and as you see, the link is on the FAA website. Good article, also it covers the NEW ruling that went into effect this very year.

http://www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing ... ecause.pdf

Enjoy everyone!
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flig

Postby admin on Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:29 pm

usmcshooter wrote:It saddens me when the regulations are regurgitated without true context. As pilots, we all have access to the FARs. Luckily, here is a much better clarification and as you see, the link is on the FAA website. Good article, also it covers the NEW ruling that went into effect this very year.
http://www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing ... ecause.pdf
Enjoy everyone!


Hi USMC! Thank you for the link and your input. The the post you are referencing as being "regurgitated with out true context" was made in 2009 by Jon Wehrenberg, (co-founder of PNP, retired now), and pilot of 35 years, and relates his interpretation of the FARs. That being said, Pilots N Paws does have a letter generated from the legal counsel of the FAA's office declaring our flights as "humanitarian" and as such, pilots who fly under our banner are eligible to claim portions of their flight expenses as a tax donation at the end of the year. The IRS has told us that in order to use our PNP 501c3, the requests for transport help must be made on the forum board and replied to here. Pilots are welcome to print those out as proof of their completed flights. It is also why we request that that once a transport is complete the initial poster needs to mark it as such and rather then delete it, we move it to a forum simply classified as "DONE".

Regarding the new legislation, we spoke at length with Air Care Alliance reps last month when Pilots N Paws co-founder Debi Boies received the Public Benefit Flying Awards in D.C. held at the Capital. The new ruling is still being formatted as to how it applies to volunteer groups. For example, as stated in the article you reference, the requirements are still being decided by specific volunteer groups. As far as PNP is concerned, we have no intentions of implementing regulations for our pilots. If you have a current pilots license you can fly rescue animals. The alternative for them is certain death which makes what our pilots do different from flying humans. We also do not have the funding to reimburse pilots for their fuel. Here is a response you might find helpful that truly explains the premise of Pilots N Paws as explained to a pilot on the forum board who was requesting monies for fuel from rescue groups. This is how our board of directors feels and every pilot is entitled to volunteer, or not, for any group they feel suits their thoughts and ideas. We always hope that pilots feel welcome here and would like to join us in fulfilling our mission statement. Thank you again for sharing your views, we all have them, and respecting others statements and information is appreciated. Below is a statement of the view of our founding members.

"The question of our volunteer pilots asking rescues and shelters for help with fuel costs was asked of us today. While we greatly appreciate the pilots who volunteer with Pilots N Paws, we do not solicit funding of any kind for assistance with fuel or flight costs. Rescues and shelters come to us because they normally cannot afford to pay for transport costs to move these animals. It has always been, and will continue to be, the policy of Pilots N Paws to offer free transportation for animals in need. It always has been and will continue to be the pilots choice to volunteer to help or not. They know if they happen to be headed for a flight for fun, vacation, the infamous burger or perhaps they just want to give back and make a flight because they love flying and animals. Our position is also somewhat different in that we will not be flying people who could possibly share costs, we are flying animals who do not have jobs to pay/donate to you.

Our BOD felt it was time for a reminder to all that Pilots N Paws is a volunteer organization and from that standpoint, we help each other when we can afford to do so and because we want to. Yes, it's expensive to fly, no doubt about that but asking for payment or donations for other organizations while using the framework of our organization is not condoned by us. We do thank everyone for your contribution to society by helping many organizations accomplish their goals."
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flig

Postby usmcshooter on Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:59 pm

Wow, thanks for the awesome reply! That was impressive. The old one that I was referring to was basically a copy and paste from the FARs and like most pilot sites, it mostly shows that a person can recite them, but it doesn't give much clarification. I fly rescues pretty regularly for a 501c out of San Diego and I often look on here for additional trips to do since I fly once a week. This subject was brought up by a few rescues here and I talked to the local FSDO about it. They referred me to that wonderful article. Good stuff, thanks for being so thorough, that is why I often come back here.
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Re: Pilots: Clarification FAA View of Charitable Rescue Flig

Postby admin on Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:48 pm

usmcshooter wrote:Wow, thanks for the awesome reply! That was impressive. The old one that I was referring to was basically a copy and paste from the FARs and like most pilot sites, it mostly shows that a person can recite them, but it doesn't give much clarification. I fly rescues pretty regularly for a 501c out of San Diego and I often look on here for additional trips to do since I fly once a week. This subject was brought up by a few rescues here and I talked to the local FSDO about it. They referred me to that wonderful article. Good stuff, thanks for being so thorough, that is why I often come back here.


You are very welcome and thanks for all the volunteer flying you do, it matters!
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