Pilot compensation for transport

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Pilot compensation for transport

Postby adcst12 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:58 pm

I am a student pilot and animal lover working to create an e-mail network of pilots in the western-pennsylvania area who I could contact in case of a transport need (rather than waiting for them to come to this message board). I have been asked the question several times about compensation for pilots. They are not looking to be paid, per se, just wondering if there was any opportunity to off-set some of the expenses.

My first step was to reserch the Federal Air Regulations (FARs). Section 61.113 is very clear that "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" but later it says "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." So, is the animal being transported considered a passenger or property? (Not judging here---my pet is DEFINITELY a passenger!) My guess is that the FAA would say "property" so that would mean the pilot could accept no reimbursement. However, if a human handler came along for the ride, the human passenger could contribute up to their pro-rata share of the expenses listed above.

The other thought is that at least some of the expenses would be deductable as a charitable donation. I am sure there are some rules here, starting with the sponsoring organization being a non-priofit organization, but I don't know what else would be involved.

Can anyone clarify on either the FAA or IRS regulations at play here? I want to give those interested the right answer and, if the out-of-pocket expense to the pilot can be reduced, more pilots would be willing to help. Nearly all pilots I know are looking for an excuse to fly more and cost is a significant barrier to most of them.
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Re: Pilot compensation for transport

Postby Jon on Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:53 pm

There is no way we can be compensated for our flights without operating under part 135. As a practical matter nobody has money to pay for flights. Shelters and rescues operate on a shoestring and they don't have the resources.

However, some are 501(3)C organizations which allows you to treat the expenses of a flight as a charitable donation. Very detailed records and receipts are required. That is something that should be discussed with a tax professional. It isn't cash to offset expenses, but at the end of the year it could amount to a serious reduction in how much taxes you have to pay.

Philosophically I have adopted the attitude that doing a transport perhaps with a friend as co-pilot is a better way to enjoy flying than just heading out for a hamburger. I have as much fun and helping animals to safety is a substantial reward. But if I can deduct the flight expenses that is just frosting on the cake.

My pets are family, but I doubt if the law sees them as such.
Jon
 

Re: Pilot compensation for transport

Postby takas4698 on Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:15 pm

This is a great topic. I assume that the groups would not have the funds to compensate the pilots, but how many of the organizations would you be able to make this a tax deductable "dontation" of time and flight expenses? I am brand new to this and my wife and I love 2 things in life- our dogs and flying... I would really love to help any dog in need, but with the cost of gas and my 182 burning about 16gph, it would be nice to write that off at the end of the year. Has anyone been able to write it off previous tax years? Easy to do? I have a friend that uses his plane for a childerens organization and he is able to expense fuel, oil, hours he needs to stay current, part of insurance, hangars etc... I think you would have a HUGE amount of pilots willing to help out if they knew that they can write it off at the end of the year.
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Re: Pilot compensation for transport

Postby Michele on Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:16 pm

Icing on the cake!
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Re: Pilot compensation for transport

Postby Debi on Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:36 pm

takas4698 wrote:This is a great topic. I assume that the groups would not have the funds to compensate the pilots, but how many of the organizations would you be able to make this a tax deductable "dontation" of time and flight expenses? I am brand new to this and my wife and I love 2 things in life- our dogs and flying... I would really love to help any dog in need, but with the cost of gas and my 182 burning about 16gph, it would be nice to write that off at the end of the year. Has anyone been able to write it off previous tax years? Easy to do? I have a friend that uses his plane for a childerens organization and he is able to expense fuel, oil, hours he needs to stay current, part of insurance, hangars etc... I think you would have a HUGE amount of pilots willing to help out if they knew that they can write it off at the end of the year.


I am not a pilot so will not be able to comment on the success any pilot has had with writing off any deductions. I do know that if you are assisting a 501c3 charitable rescue group they have the capability of issuing you a donation letter at the end of the year, just as any other charitable group you donate too. Hopefully, your accountant would be able to advise you or maybe we have a pilot who is knowledgeable about the answer to this question??

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Re: Pilot compensation for transport

Postby Jon on Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:26 am

This is a question for anyone in the legal or accounting profession that may be part of this group.

Is it possible for pilots n paws to be a 501c3 charity? I have dealt with and flown for a considerable number of fosters and rescues and shelters this past 6 months or so. Very few are 501c3 organizations, and most are just very kind hearted people who want to save animals. Perhaps if PNP is the 501c3 our impact as a group could be greater because of the ability to gain a tax advantage.

As to donations, Debi is our money person and through the Prevost Owner's Group
http://www.prevostownersgroup.com/public/ PNP got some seed money to provide pilots with carriers and safety harnesses. Any more donations would be used for similar purposes, but as yet the donations will not be tax deductable.
Jon
 


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