Travel While Giving to Charity

Do you donate your services to charity and travel to do so? While you can't deduct the value of your services that you give to the charity, you may be able to deduct some of the out-of-pocket travel costs you incur.

For the travel expenses to be deductible, the volunteer work must be performed for a qualified charity. Most groups other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to be recognized as a qualified charity. You can use the IRS's Select Check Tool to find organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

Of course, not all types of travel expenses qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can't deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation. Additionally, you can't deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip. However, you can deduct your travel expenses if your work is substantial throughout the trip.

Deductible travel expenses must be: (a) unreimbursed, (b) directly connected with the services, (c) expenses you had only because of the services you donated, and (d) not personal, living, or family expenses. These travel expenses may include air, rail, and bus transportation; car expenses; lodging costs; meal costs; and taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel. You may pay the travel expenses directly or indirectly. (You make a payment to the charitable organization and the organization pays for your travel expenses.)

If a qualified organization selects you to attend a convention as its representative, you can deduct your unreimbursed expenses for travel, including reasonable amounts for meals and lodging, while away from home overnight for the convention. You cannot deduct personal expense for sightseeing, entertainment and other expenses for your spouse or children. If the requirements are met, traveling while donating services to charity can be a win-win.

This publication is distributed with the understanding that the author, publisher and distributor are not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters, and, accordingly, assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. The information contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of (1) avoiding tax-related penalties prescribed by the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting or marketing any tax-related matter addressed herein. © 2014