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experimental aircraft for business use

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bmcj

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On the topic of flying for business travel, i.e. work is sending me to _____ city, and I decide to make the trip using my own airplane instead of commercial airliner or car, with work reimbursing me for the travel expenses (within reason, i.e. cents per mile).

Is that possible with a private pilots license and an experimental homebuilt airplane?

I don't need a commercial pilots license?
I don't need to have a certified airplane, I can do it with my homebuilt?
Can I still accept the reimbursement for trip expenses?

(As someone who travels for work a fair bit, this is actually of direct interest to me).
If the flying is incidental (i.e. - the choice to fly, drive, walk, buy a ticket has no impact on how the job is done), then yes, it is OK. You can be paid for your time and expense.
 

Vigilant1

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On the topic of flying for business travel, i.e. work is sending me to _____ city, and I decide to make the trip using my own airplane instead of commercial airliner or car, with work reimbursing me for the travel expenses (within reason, i.e. cents per mile).

Is that possible with a private pilots license and an experimental homebuilt airplane?
Yes. In general, you can't earn money with a PPC by using the airplane for gain, but you can use (and claim expenses) for using your personal plane to get to jobs, etc (just like you'd claim miles for using your private auto).
The government rate for private air travel is pretty high ($1.31 per mile). I frequently work on government contracts, and if I claimed that I probably wouldn't be asked to do any more work for that customer. What would be acceptable in my case (and this is my opinion, and what others have done in my line of work) is to show what the cost would have been for air travel by commercial air (i.e. print out the page from Expedia showing an acceptable routing and ticket price) and then ask for reimbursement of that amount, if it is less than the Private Plane mileage amount. If the airline ticket is more than the private plane mileage amount, provide it anyway to show that you saved the customer money.
Another practical consideration: If you need to be at a particular place at a particular time, you need to be able to fly IFR and (in some cases) into known icing. The private plane can be an okay means of getting there, but most of us need a backup plan--and for me, that is my car. I'm willing to drive 600 miles in a day, so that's the practical limit of my ability to use my plane to travel on "date certain" business (assuming I get a full travel day on either end.)
 

Battson

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Jan 30, 2012
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New Zealand
Things are a little different over here in NZ.
Law states you cannot operate an AB aircraft for "hire or reward". So hire and reward precludes getting paid for doing anything in your plane.
If the Authority wanted to push it, that could probably include your own business paying for you to fly places in your AB aircraft. While I know some people disagree with that interpretation, and some even operate their AB aircraft for activities similar to banner towing with a reward (payment), to me it seems extremely clear cut: No reward allowed, monetary or otherwise.

I would tend do disbelieve the comments about tax law saying your decisions have to make the best business sense, you can't legislate for good business decision making.
 

N8053H

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Right here in front of my computer
Yeah, definitely keep a detailed log of use. If they ever come at you, you can just show them the log and that should shut it down if the log matches that of the aircraft and your pilot's logbook.
EAB's do not need to keep logs. Nothing in the regs say I have to keep a set of logs on my EAB. The only log book I need is one that is signed with a Condition Inspection. I do not need nor have to have flight logs nor engine logs.

Tony
 

haiqu

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Australia & New Zealand
Sure, but it would make sense to have them:

1. For resale value of the airplane
2. For determining business flights as above

The IRS won't care whether the FAA require it, it's they who will require it.
 

skydawg

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Jul 26, 2016
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Denver, Colorado
There are only a few ways to charge for exp aircraft use. FAA can issue waiver to train pilots specific to that aircraft type, not including any other training. Exhibition can charge for things like making movies. Current FAA policy states flight training is allowed in experimentals as long as there is no compensation for use of the plane. I’m teaching my daughter to fly in a c172 with a V8 engine. Policy would also allow for an experimental flying club as long as club is equity type- members all own share of planes- and reasonable fees are charged.

As far as towing and other commercial uses, that would be a hard sell if questioned, and there is likely specific prohibits in experimental limitations. However, some experimentals that were previously certified may possibly obtain a restricted category AC, such as many of the fire fighting aircraft or agricultural aircraft.

one other option to hire the plane out would be under public aircraft operations category, which releases you from most FAA requirements. This is common for many unusual aircraft operating under a government entity, such as old warbirds that tow drones for military. this would mostly require the government entity to accept responsibility for aircraft’s safe operations and issue you a written contract with specific details and signed by someone with authority in that entity. however, it’s only valid during that mission, but you keep your current experimental AC allowing you normal operations under experimental operating limitations.

so there are some possibilities to hire out any EXP aircraft, but it’s limited.
 

Pilot-34

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The flying farmers stand is that during harvest flying somewhere for a part is justified because harvest time is critical from both a weather and financial point of veiw And you never know how much you have left.
 

ToddK

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The Real Texas
Been working on some fairly compact jig designs for the Cub Major. I will also be replicating each piece of wood in PVC so I will have a dimensionally stable duplicate that I can use for setting up repeat cuts quickly and without measuring on the table saw with a miter sled. This stuff will live out in my hanger which will be essentially a builder assist location. A guy can come out and in a few days walk out with a fuselage or wings or a tail, ready for covering, for a very reasonable cost. Also been trying to get a line on CVG southern cypress from some sawyers in Louisiana, if not, I have place I can get Doug Fur all day long. My accountant seems to think that if the location is used sufficiently, I should be able to deduct my hanger rent. Maybe I can't deduct my flying, but I can lower my costs via deducing the hanger which will be used for business. I am not holding my breath on that one, as wood aircraft builds are getting rarer by the day, but you never know. I have to think there are least a few guys who would rather spend some time cutting a gluing for a few days or weeks, rather then driving thousands of rivets over a few years.
 

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Pops

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We used the company aircraft 100% for business use. Need to keep very good records for the FAA and IRS use. My CPA was also a CPA for a 135 operation, so he knew the FAR's and kept me out of trouble with both. Aircraft and pilot had to be IFR current at all times .
I miss those days most of the time, but not always. Don't miss flying in the NE in the winter.
 
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TFF

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As long as a farmer or other uses it personally in the business that is not the business, there is. no problem. If the farmer sell the use to a neighbor, that is a no no. Anything in between will be settled in court, if caught. Nothing says one can get away with it.

I would like to stockpile some of that Doug Fir. I would be digging through getting every airworthy board I could afford.
 

Yellowhammer

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Feb 21, 2020
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This was sent to me a while back and others might find it interesting...



I'm not an accountant, but I do own my own biz plus have dabbled in the real estate market as well. I have gone round and round with various tax professionals on this, so here's my 2 cents...

Unless somebody has real world IRS audit experience with personal plane used for biz type of cases, their opinion is all you're going to get, and you know the saying about opinions...

In my mind, here's what I've settled on. In order for something to be deductible as a biz expense, the IRS says it has to be "ordinary and necessary" along with "reasonable". That phraseology allows the IRS to call any expense into question. You can deduct the cost of your trip to NJ, but can you defend it to a human sitting across the desk from you? That’s what I use as my litmus test. In other words, if you are trying to deduct $575 for a trip to NJ to fix a toilet that you could have paid a plumber $75 to fix, the IRS is going to have a problem with that, because it doesn’t make good business sense.

One of the things the IRS will look at is the cost of an airline seat for the same trip. If Southwest flies there for $49 each way, that will be one strike against you. So if you’re going to say you just found out this morning that you have to be in NJ for a 2pm meeting and the airline seat would have cost $1200, then you can deduct your $575 for the trip in your plane. But you better be able to prove that being there at 2pm was both "ordinary and necessary". There are obvious advantages to flying yourself, but it has to be within reason. You can take into account commercial airport waits, a hotel room vs being able to come home same day, and no rental car or taxi because you landed 2 miles from your property. All those things would be on your side if an expense got questioned.

Last thing I'll say about using a personal airplane for biz use... EVERYBODY I've ever asked says that it makes you a target for an IRS audit because the dollars are usually big and it's something very easily used for pleasure. I've never seen any hard evidence, though, just opinions.

A final thought about your question on having an LLC own the plane. There is no right or wrong answer, because everybody’s in a different situation. But what I’ve found through talking to many people is that having a corporation own the airplane is not the liability “magic pill” isolator that a lot of people think it is. The problem is if you’re going to be the only one flying it, if something should happen, you will be sued as the PIC anyway, regardless of who owns it. If the plane rolls away from a tie down spot when you’re 100 miles away from it, I’m sure you’d be named in the lawsuit because you should have triple checked your tie down chains. Especially with your assets, the opposing lawyer will surely find a way to pull you into the lawsuit. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in.

Just more food for thought…

Show me the law that says you have to pay federal income taxes on labor or services provided and I will gladly pay it.
 

Yellowhammer

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Feb 21, 2020
Messages
256
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Louisiana (unfortunately)
Sure, but it would make sense to have them:

1. For resale value of the airplane
2. For determining business flights as above

The IRS won't care whether the FAA require it, it's they who will require it.
Show me the law that says you have to pay federal income taxes on labor or services provided and I will gladly pay them.
 

Yellowhammer

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Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Messages
256
Location
Louisiana (unfortunately)
Been working on some fairly compact jig designs for the Cub Major. I will also be replicating each piece of wood in PVC so I will have a dimensionally stable duplicate that I can use for setting up repeat cuts quickly and without measuring on the table saw with a miter sled. This stuff will live out in my hanger which will be essentially a builder assist location. A guy can come out and in a few days walk out with a fuselage or wings or a tail, ready for covering, for a very reasonable cost. Also been trying to get a line on CVG southern cypress from some sawyers in Louisiana, if not, I have place I can get Doug Fur all day long. My accountant seems to think that if the location is used sufficiently, I should be able to deduct my hanger rent. Maybe I can't deduct my flying, but I can lower my costs via deducing the hanger which will be used for business. I am not holding my breath on that one, as wood aircraft builds are getting rarer by the day, but you never know. I have to think there are least a few guys who would rather spend some time cutting a gluing for a few days or weeks, rather then driving thousands of rivets over a few years.

I live in southern Louisiana and deal in Cypress and have done so for a long time. Sinker Cypress, Tide water red/yellow, pecky, you name it. If you really need some let me know.
 
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