Did you know there are Tax Deductions for Volunteer Work?

Did you know that there are tax deductions for volunteer work? ...Did you know you can deduct your expenses related to volunteer work?  One year when filing my taxes, I used Taxcut rather than one of the free tools I mentioned to get free state tax filing.  I should have taken my own advice. It ended up costing me $30 to do my state forms and then they wanted another $20 to e-file the state taxes.  I don't know, $50 is too much – don't you think?...Did you know you can deduct your expenses related to volunteer work?

One year when filing my taxes, I used Taxcut rather than one of the free tools I mentioned to get free state tax filing.

I should have taken my own advice. It ended up costing me $30 to do my state forms and then they wanted another $20 to e-file the state taxes.

I don’t know, $50 is too much – don’t you think?

The problem is that once you have already invested three to four hours entering in all the information, it makes it difficult to choose another option . . . .

But anyway, I just wanted to mention as a friendly reminder, you can deduct the mileage you drive to volunteer.

From what I read, volunteers can also deduct:

  • Cost of tolls
  • Parking fees
  • Cab fares
  • Bus fares

Keep in mind you can only deduct these if they were related to the charitable service.

Options for Deducting the Expenses

You can take a standard mileage rate for the year, or deduct the direct expenses by keeping track of gas used.

Recordkeeping for the IRS

Several years ago I started a separate calendar on Google Calendar that I mark:

  • The date and time I volunteered
  • The location of the work
  • The total number of miles driven

Then each year when tax time rolls around, I just grab a calculator and flip through the calendar adding up the total miles driven for volunteer work. Using a spreadsheet or notebook would work as well, just make sure you have it documented for the tax man!

For more check out these articles:

Do you take tax deductions for volunteer work? 

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  1. Resa

    We keep a small planner in each car. You know the ones that you bank or realtor hand out for free. Then mark the miles, and purpose (work, volunteering, rental property) right on the date.

    I believe you can also deduct expenses for volunteering, i.e. making meals ill church members, etc. At least that’s what I remember from last year’s filing. I haven’t ventured into this years yet 🙂

  2. Amy

    Does it really count if you’re just writing it down yourself in the calendar? It seems like you would need something else to prove that you were actually volunteering. Anyone can write down mileage or that they volunteered on X date. Perhaps I’m just playing Devi’s advocate here but I wonder if IRS auditor would actually accept that.

    I know I’m able to deduct some work related driving but that’s backed up by the fact that I have to sign into meetings which is kept as a record that I was actually there.

    • bob

      you know, I will let you know if I get audited 😉 But, from what I read a notebook documenting it counts, so you could make the same argument for that as well… So, my hope is that the tax man will be okay with it…

  3. Rene Schultz

    So you can deduct mileage for volunteer work. Can you also deduct things you buy for volunteer work. For instance, I volunteer at a wild life sanctuary and I buy food/treats for the various animals I am trying to socilaize and care for. I also buy things I need to handle them during a rescue. Can I deduct those costs? Thanks.

    • Heather

      Yes, you can deduct the things you buy that are %100 for volunteer work and not personal use. This includes clothing that is purchased specifically for that work and the cost of cleaning said clothing.

  4. Kara Beth Huddleston

    My husband and I teach homeschoolers in rural Georgia. He teaches writing and English skills. I teach singing to a large group which then performs throughout the state. We have spent over $5000 of my husband’s retirement salary this year alone in costumes, music, equipment, etc. We had a fiscal sponsor from Atlanta but our connecting person moved, and I hate to ask the church who was sponsoring us again because our sponsorship was based on that friendship. Any other suggestions on how to get tax deductions?

  5. Shila Brekke

    My husband and I (both retired) volunteer about 8 hours (each) a week for a habitat for Humanity. We know that we can dudect the milage but can we deduct the hours worked somehow?

    • clydewolf

      You are doing volunteer work. Deducting your some amount for your time would effectively make it a paying job. Perhaps that “income” could then be taxable?

      No, you can not deduct an amount for your time.

  6. Jon Beaty

    I hold a handful of volunteer positions in my church for which I do a lot of driving. I use a. app on my iphone called Reciepts to track my mileage and the activities I’m traveling for. The app allows me to export a spreadsheet that I can use to tally my mileage expenses at tax time.

  7. Nick Miller

    I’m glad you posted this and that people who volunteer can deduct this from their taxes. However, I hope everyone realizes how much of the tax code really benefit wealthier Americans rather than those who in the bottom 20% of wealth/income.

    There are a decent number of articles (based on many primary sources) showing how the wealthiest quintiles avoid tons of taxes – here’s a good one though: http://www.businessinsider.com/surprise-tax-deductions-favor-the-rich-2013-12

    I think many people would agree that the +$68 billion we lose in tax revenue on the mortgage interest deduction alone to families making over $100,000 is not economically or morally justifiable when we still have homeless veterans in this country. So I hope people take the deductions, but also donate to their money to those who need it too.

  8. Kathy

    What about the time you spend at home working as a volunteer crocheting/knitting for local charities? Does that count?

    • clydewolf

      Volunteer time is not deductible. Your expenses for materials that you use may be deductible.

  9. clydewolf

    To receive any tax benefit from your volunteer work, you must use Schedule A to itemize you deductions. Often there is more benefit from using the Standard Deduction, $12,400 for a couple filing a joint tax return for 2014. If the taxpayer is age 65 or older they can add to the standard deduction an additional $1,200 for each taxpayer and spouse that is over age 65 and file a joint tax return.

    Before you take the deduction for your volunteer expenses, you may want check that your organization is a qualified 501-c3 organization. Your sons soccer league may not qualify. Here is the IRS list:to search: http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check

    If your volunteer expenses do qualify the miles you drive to do the work are worth $0.15 per mile. If you were to drive for one thousand miles for your volunteer work, you would reduce your taxable income by $150. In the 15% tax bracket, this would reduce your tax bill by about $22.