Tax Tips for Charity Travel

Charitable Gift Planning

Do you travel for charity? You may not be taking advantage of the many tax breaks that the federal government offers for charitable travel expenses.

Summer is a popular time for volunteer vacations; many charitable organizations require help around the United States far from your hometown. One thing to consider when traveling for charity is to check the organization’s status with the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions to or expenses incurred for the benefit of select charities are recognized. If you wish to enjoy the tax benefits of volunteering for charity, it is in your best interest to choose a charity recognized by the IRS.
Whether you are traveling within your home state for a few hours of volunteer work, or if you fly across the country to help with a charitable project, here are just a few of the deductions you can enjoy:
  • Cost of airfare, train or bus tickets
  • Rental car expenses
  • Taxi, metro, or other transportation used for transit between hotels and travel stations
  • Hotel and meal costs (as long as you are required to be away from home overnight)
There are certain charitable contributions you may not deduct:
  • The value of your time or service (such as income lost while you volunteer)
  • Personal expenses
  • Contributions to civic leagues and associations and chambers of commerce
Taxpayers can take advantage of the deductions above if they choose to itemize deductions for the tax year. Also, the travel must not have been primarily for recreation purposes. A substantial amount of the time traveling must be involved with working for the charity. When you want to verify if you are taking advantage of all the tax deductions available for charity work, check with a CPA or tax attorney.
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