TaxesTuesday, Charity Travel Expense as Tax Deduction?

Many organizations have service trips that they do during the summer months. From the mission trips to Guatemala, to local service weeks, some of your expenses incurred while volunteering can be taken as a tax deduction. This means that you can use this to either increase the amount of your refund or reduce the amount that you will have to pay when you file your taxes!

Let’s run through some quick rules that the IRS publishes, just to make sure that everything you are planning on deducting is an allowable deduction.

The Basics:

  • You must be volunteering for a Qualified Charity. Most churches and governmental organizations qualify, but the IRS does provide a tool that you can use to check on the status of a charity.
  • Volunteer Image PNGWhat you spent must be:
    • Necessary
    • Unreimbursed
    • Directly related to your volunteer work
    • Expenses that were only incurred because of the volunteer work
    • Real expenses (meaning you must have a receipt for these expenses; or in the case of mileage, a mileage log)
  • Can NOT be personal, living or family expenses

For Service Trips

  • You must play a substantial role in the trip throughout. If you play a nominal role, then none of the expenses are deductible
  • Your time is not a deductible expense, regardless of any income that may have been forfeited so you could go on the service trip.
  • Travel expenses that are deductible:
    • Airplane, Train, Bus tickets
    • Car & Taxi expenses
    • Lodging expenses
    • Cost of meals
    • Transportation expenses incurred to get to and from the airport, or station and hotel.

Note: if a significant portion of the service trip involves recreation or vacation, none of the above are deductible.

For more information, please visit the IRS website and review Publication 526.

Happy Travels!

Chelsea Auton
The Volpe Consulting & Accounting Team


More from our blog