Tips for Deducting Expenses Incurred for Charity Travel

7/22/2013 Articles

Many people combine their summer travel with charity work. Some travel expenses may be deductible against federal and state income taxes for those who itemize deductions. The IRS recently posted five tax tips for taxpayers who want to know about travel while serving a charity:

  1. You must volunteer to work for a qualified organization. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. You can also visit and use the Select Check tool to see if the group is qualified.
  2. You may be able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses you pay while serving as a volunteer. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services.
  3. The deduction qualifies only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel. However, the deduction will qualify even if you enjoy the trip.
  4. You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
  5. Deductible travel expenses may include:
          • Air, rail and bus transportation
          • Car expenses
          • Lodging costs
          • The cost of meals
          • Taxi fares or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel

To learn more see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available at

The IRS has published a great deal of related guidance for donors and charities at, youtube videos at, podcasts at, and, of course taxpayers can get hard copy publications by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Farella’s Tax Exempt Organizations Practice Group is here to support your philanthropic giving. Please feel free to contact your Farella attorney, Cynthia Rowland or any other member of our Group with any questions you have regarding the requirements for deducting charitable contributions.