Few are the volunteers who choose to contribute their time because of the fantastic tax breaks they receive for doing so. But the fact is, if you volunteer regularly for an organization there are some expenses you can deduct from your taxes, as long as you itemize. The deductible expenses may be treated as charitable contributions. You may, for instance, deduct:
- fares spent on going from your home to the place you volunteer;
- phone calls, postage stamps, and stationery used in the line of volunteer duty;
- 14 cents per mile for gas in traveling from your home to the place you volunteer and back; however, be sure to keep good odometer records;
- unreimbursed parking and toll costs;
- unreimbursed expenses incurred in operating your personal property while performing volunteer work, such as film and film development;
- unreimbursed travel expenses incurred by volunteer activities, such as transportation, meals and lodging for a conference or workshop which the volunteer attends on behalf of the organization; and
- unreimbursed expenses of $250 or more, incurred on any single day on behalf of the charity; the volunteer must substantiate the deduction with a written receipt from the charity.
What May You Not Deduct?
- insurance, depreciation, or the cost of your equipment;
- the value of your service (your time); and
- use of your home for meetings.
It is up to the volunteer to substantiate her/his deductions if the IRS should question them. You must be able to show the connection between costs claimed and volunteer work performed. Be sure to keep all relevant receipts, canceled checks, logs and diary entries.