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How to Claim Expenses on Behalf of a Charity as Deductions

You’re probably aware that contributed cash donations made to a charitable organization are deductions at tax time…but you might not realize that if you provide work for a charity, you are able to deduct some of the costs of your related activities as well.  When you engage in activities designed to benefit the charity, you can consider related activities you pay for out-of-pocket to be deductible, and in some cases you’re not beholden to the usual 50% deduction limit on meals.

Special Events Expenses. Fundraisers, and other charitable events can incur a variety of personal expenses. If you’re a guest at a charity dinner, for example, you may be paying an amount higher than the cost of the meal itself, and the amount you pay above the fair market value of that meal is deductible (you will have to procure some form of documentation of that value). However, if you’re thehost of a dinner on behalf of the charity, you can deduct the costs of the evening’s dinner, entertainment, or otherwise.

Use of Personal Resources. If you use your personal phone for any long-distance calls on behalf of the charity, the cost of those calls is deductible, as are costs of gas and maintenance for your car if they were required due to work done for the charity. You also have the option of deducting a flat mileage amount, based on 14 cents per mile driven on behalf of the organization.

Travel and Conventions. A trip on behalf of charity, specifically travel fare and meals, is deductible. Meals and lodging are also deductible at conventions if you’re there as an official delegate authorized by the charity.  Note that personal expenses incurred while on the trip are not deductible – golf, admission to tourist attractions, etc.

Other. Some organizations, such as scouting, require a uniform to be purchased and worn during the group’s activities—this purchase is tax-deductible. Other organizations facilitate foreign student exchanges, and if you are a host home for such a program you can deduct $50/month of your expenses for each month the child attends school…as long as the student is also not related to you.

The government offers tax breaks to charities in order to support the work they do, and if you work to support that charity, then take advantage of the deductions you have coming as well.

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