Tax Deductible Travel & Charity Work

If you donate your time to charitable organizations, the cost of traveling to do so may provide you with a tax deduction. You’ll have to itemize your deductions when you file your tax return to claim the deductions. But if you’re able to do so, the benefits could help decrease your tax liability. Here are a few things to know about claiming charitable travel expenses.

  1. You must volunteer to work for a qualified organization. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. You can also visit and use the Select Check tool to see if the group is qualified.
  2. You may be able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses you pay while serving as a volunteer. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Deductible travel expenses may include:
  • Air, rail and bus transportation
  • Car expenses
  • Lodging costs
  • The cost of meals
  • Taxi fares or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel

If you’d like more detailed information see IRS Publication 526 or contact your tax attorney.

By: Evan A. Nielsen (Licensed in California)

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