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Travel costs related to volunteering can be deductible

It is pretty well-known that donations to charity can be tax deductible. However, giving gifts of money or assets is far from the only way individuals support the charities they care about. People also may donate their time to charities through volunteering. Can taxpayers claim any deductions for this method of supporting a charitable cause?

There are not federal tax deductions available for the value of time or services a person volunteers to a charity. However, there are some other volunteering-related deductions a person may be able to claim. For example, if a person traveled in connection to their volunteering, they may have deductions available. Some travel expenses incurred in relation to volunteering for charity can be deductible under federal tax law. This includes transportation, meal and lodging costs.

There are numerous rules regarding what such travel expenses qualify for a deduction. So, many different factors can impact whether a person would be able to deduct the travel expenses related to a given volunteer experience, including:

  • Whether the organization they volunteer for is a “qualified charity.”
  • How much of their trip consisted of recreation or vacation activities.
  • Whether their volunteer duties were “genuine and substantial.”
  • The exact nature of the expenses in question.

Whatever way a person decides to support a charity, it can be important for them to be aware of what tax deductions they might be able to claim. When claiming such deductions, it can critical for a taxpayer to properly comply with the rules and processes related to such deductions. Tax planning attorneys can provide individuals with guidance on tax issues related to supporting charities.

Source: Internal Revenue Services, “Tips to Keep in Mind for Taxpayers Traveling for Charity,” July 28, 2017

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