My wife is a Girl Scouts Leader. Is all of her time and contributions to the troop tax deductible? If so, how?
Okay, the bad news first: the value of your time spent volunteering for charitable organizations is never deductible. Ever.
But there is good news! Out of pocket expenses relating to volunteering for charitable organizations are deductible. To qualify, those expenses must be: (1) unreimbursed; (2) directly connected with the services; (3) expenses you had only because of the services you gave; and (4) not personal, living, or family expenses.
The most obvious example of out of pocket expenses relating to providing services for a charitable organization is the cost of transportation. You can either deduct the actual costs of gas, etc., related to your services or you can claim the standard mileage rate (currently 14 cents a mile for charitable deductions) to figure your contribution. No matter which method you use (mileage or actual), you can still deduct parking fees and tolls.
You can also claim travel expenses while you are away from home performing services for a charitable organization, assuming that the expenses are related to the services and not for personal use (such as a vacation). Travel expenses would include air, rail, and bus transportation (as well as expenses for your car); taxi fares or other costs of transportation between the airport or station and your hotel; the cost of lodging and the cost of meals.
If you buy uniforms or other related clothing, etc., as part of your charitable service – and are not reimbursed by the organization – you can deduct those costs. Be aware, however, that the general rule on those are that the uniforms must be worn while volunteering and are otherwise not suitable for everyday use (so the cool tee shirt that you wear occasionally to the mall doesn’t count).
Any other supplies or prizes that you buy to be used in the performance of your services would likewise be deductible.
So, no to the value of your personal services but yes to those related expenses. Keep good records when you travel or buy things for your troop and you should be okay.
Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.
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