Besides donating money, one of the best ways you can support a worthy cause is to volunteer. Many organizations are limited by what they can do because they don’t have the support staff and leaders to help them grow. You can lend your expertise or learn a new skill while assisting others.
There may be some tax advantages to having a big heart. While you may already know that your donated funds and goods can be helpful come tax time, did you know that some of your volunteer work related expenses may be tax deductible?
Making Sure You’re Getting the Most of Your Volunteer Work
Before you start keeping tabs on your expenses, check to see if the organization is a qualified charitable organization and recognized by the IRS. While you can still do plenty of good work, to get the tax benefits the organization does have to meet certain qualifications.
Once you get that squared away, which expenses could be tax deductible? Here are a few major ones:
- Transportation/Travel: If you have to drive or take public transportation for your volunteer work, that may be tax deductible. You can keep meticulous track of your gas spending driving back and forth to where you’re volunteering or you can use the 14 cents/mile allowed by the IRS. If you have to pay for parking and it’s related to your volunteer work, then you may be able to deduct that too. Your regular car maintenance and insurance coverage, however are not tax deductible when volunteering.
- Uniforms: If you are required to wear a uniform for the volunteer work, you may be able to deduct that purchase as well as its’ upkeep. However, it also must not be something you can use every day (think a t-shirt with logo).
- Supplies: If you are providing supplies (maybe office paper for the organization’s reports or construction material for a building project), then you may be able to claim them. Just make sure they are expressly for the charity.
Note: If you get reimbursed from the organization, you can not take a tax deduction. You also want to keep in mind, to claim these tax deductions you need to itemize your deductions. And as always, keep good records!
Don’t worry about knowing these tax deductions. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions you are eligible for based on your answers.
I’d love to hear from you. What causes are near and dear to your heart? How did you get started?