FAQ: What expenses can I deduct when I do volunteer work for a charity?

written by Eric Lampe

Many of us have charitable organizations that are important or special to us. We know that they are supported in large part by volunteers, which is why we sign up to help out. But did you know that there are also tax advantages associated with volunteering?

Qualifying expenses
The amounts you pay for food or other supplies used by the charity are deductible on your personal tax return. In addition, the amounts you pay for travel by car or other means are also deductible. This includes airplanes, buses, taxis, gasoline for your car, and toll fees.

To make sure that the expense is fully deductible, the organization cannot reimburse you for the costs that you incur, and you must keep all of your receipts. It is also a good idea to get a written acknowledgement from the charity for the services you provide.

Special Mileage Rate
The IRS has established a special mileage rate to calculate charitable contributions deductions involving the use of your car. The rate used for 2013 is 14 cents per mile. If you decide to use the special mileage rate, then you may not deduct actual gas purchased. The 14 cents per mile includes gas used.

To make sure that the expense is fully deductible, you should keep a running log of all miles driven. This log may be used to prove mileage to take on your tax return.

Other Contribution Items
As always, donations of cash or other items given to a charity are deductible on your personal tax return. This can include, but is not limited to, cash, stocks or bonds, works of art, clothes, household items, and vehicles. The price of a ticket to an event held by an organization is also deductible to the extent of the value of the items received. For example, if you were to pay $100 for a ticket an event which provided a meal. If the value of the meal was $30, then your charitable deduction would be $70.

To make sure that the donations are fully deductible, you should keep all correspondence regarding the donation to show to your CPA. If the organization does not provide documentation, then a copy of the cleared check would suffice.

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact us at 417-881-0145.


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