Printable Version

I would like to share with you, the following information that I have gathered pertaining to participation in volunteer organizations and certain tax advantages. More information can be found in IRS publication 526. Please read my disclaimer.

Out-of-pocket expenses you incur while doing volunteer work for a qualified organization are deductible as contributions. These expenses must be unreimbursed and must benefit the charity.You can deduct contributions up to 50% of your adjusted gross income which include the following:

Out of pocket expenses: (8.254)
You can deduct the cost of materials and supplies if you spent the money for the benefit of the charitable organization. This means you can`t deduct the amounts you spend for your personal expenses such as for your lunch, but you can deduct the money you spend for materials and supplies to do your job while you`re volunteering, provided the charitable organization doesn`t reimburse you. Deduct your out-of-pocket expenses as "cash contributions".
Cost of uniforms: (8.254)
You can deduct the cost of your uniforms and shoes, if you must wear one while you`re performing your volunteer work. (plus the cost of laundry and dry cleaning)
Car mileage: (8.251)
The cost of driving your car for volunteer work is deductible. You may claim either a standard mileage rate of 14˘ a mile or the actual operating expenses for gas, oil, and repairs. You may not deduct a portion of general repairs or maintenance or depreciation. Parking fees and tolls may also be deducted under either method.
Travel away from home: (8.252, 8.253 & 8.254)
If your volunteer work takes you out of town, you may deduct the costs of airfare or other transportation, plus lodging and 50% meals while you are away. Charity cannot be a blind for a deductible vacation, though. Your volunteer expenses are not deductible if a significant element of your travel is personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation. You are allowed to have a good time. But you must be actually “on duty” throughout the trip. You may not claim travel expenses if (1) you have only nominal duties, or (2) you are not required to perform services for a significant portion of the trip. Travel expenses you incur while attending a church or other qualified organization convention as a chosen delegate are deductible. If you receive a per diem allowance from the organization, you may claim the amount of your travel expenses that exceeds your reimbursement.
Other costs deductible as charitable contributions include:

- Telephone bills directly related to business with the organization.

- 50% of the cost of meals while doing volunteer work out-of-town

- Equipment operating expenses directly attributable to volunteer use; for example, cost of flying an airplane in the service of the Civil Air Patrol or operating radio equipment as a volunteer for the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS)

You must keep records to prove the amount of the cash and noncash contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount of your contributions and whether they are cash or noncash contributions.

Car expenses. If you claim expenses directly related to use of your car in giving services to a qualified organization, you must keep reliable written records of your expenses. Whether your records are considered reliable depends on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, they may be considered reliable if you made them regularly and at or near the time you had the expenses.

Your records must show the name of the organization you were serving and the date each time you used your car for a charitable purpose. If you use the standard mileage rate, your records must show the miles you drove your car for the charitable purpose. If you deduct your actual expenses, your records must show the costs of operating the car that are directly related to a charitable purpose

This information is provided only to make you aware of the possibilities which may exist in the current tax laws. Do not rely on this information to file your tax return. Research the appropriate IRS publications or seek a professional tax advisor.