Helping others is worthwhile work with many rewards, and it’s unlikely you volunteer solely for tax benefits. But rising gasoline prices and other out-of-pocket expenses may make you wonder if you can take a deduction on your return.
Here’s an overview of what’s deductible and what’s not:
Transportation. Typically, if you itemize on your federal income tax return, you can take a deduction for the automobile expenses you incur while performing services for a charitable organization. The deduction can be for actual expenses or you can base the amount on a standard mileage rate. Either way, you should keep records, though you’re not required to attach the support to your return.
Supplies. You may be able to deduct purchases of certain items if the organization would have had to lay out the money itself. For example, when you donate building materials to help repair your local VFW post, you can deduct the amount you spent.
Personal expenses. Personal expenses, such as transportation costs driving to and from the building site in the above example, are not deductible. The value of your time and services is also nondeductible.