Good news for anyone planning to travel while doing charity work this summer: some of those travel expenses may actually help lower your taxes if you itemize deductions when filing taxes next year. The IRS recently released their summer tax tips, including five tips for those wanting to know about deductions for traveling while serving a charity.
In order to qualify for deductions, you must volunteer to work for a qualified organization, so be sure to ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. To see if a group is qualified, visit IRS.gov and use the Select Check tool.
When serving as a volunteer, you may be able to deduct travel expenses that were not reimbursed while serving as a volunteer, but you can’t deduct the value of your time or services. The deduction qualifies only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel. However, the deduction will qualify even if you enjoy the trip.
You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
Deductible travel expenses may include air, rail and bus transportation, car expenses, lodging costs, the cost of meals, and taxi fares or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.
To learn more see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).