How to Get Tax Deductions for Charity Work

Find out how doing good for others can also be good for your wallet.

Laura Adams, MBA
2-minute read

Charity Work Tax DeductionsNo matter if you do charity work in your back yard or overseas, many expenses you incur can actually cut your taxes! Here are 5 tips you should know about claiming tax deductions for helping others:

Tip #1: You must be working for a qualified organization.

Though you can volunteer for any group you like, only those with tax-exempt status allow workers to deduct associated expenses. Qualified organizations can include nonprofits that are religious, educational, scientific, or that work for the safety of children or animals. Find out if an organization is qualified by searching the database at irs.gov.

Tip #2: You can deduct expenses—but not time.

Unreimbursed expenses, such as travel and meals, while you’re doing charity work are tax-deductible. However, you can’t deduct the value of your time or specific services you perform, like bookkeeping or making phone calls. 

Tip #3: You must work throughout a trip.

If you travel to do charity work, you can deduct your travel expenses only if you make a substantial contribution throughout the trip. You can’t use a significant part of the trip  for recreation.

Tip #4: You can’t deduct reimbursed expenses.

If you’re compensated or reimbursed for doing charity work, those expenses are not tax deductible. You can only deduct out-of-pocket expenses that you incur due to work you perform for a qualified organization.

Tip #5: You must itemize tax deductions.

To deduct any charitable contribution or expense, you must file Form 1040 and itemized deductions on Schedule A. The amount you can deduct may be limited depending on the type of contribution and your income.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.