Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Charitable Mileage Deduction

Many of my friends don't know about this deduction so I thought I'd pass it along here. The 1040 instruction booklet published by the IRS doesn't discuss this deduction, but the IRS publication 526 which deals with charitable contributions goes into some detail.

Basically, you are allowed to deduct $.14/mile for the use of your vehicle in charitable volunteer work. You are also allowed to deduct mileage at the same rate for travel to and from charitable volunteer work. My husband and I do a lot of volunteer work at our church, so this ends up being enough of a deduction to make it worthwhile to keep track during the year.

For example, I serve on the leadership team for MOPS at our church, an IRS approved charitable organization. I don't deduct mileage to and from church on the days we have MOPS meetings because I would likely be attending MOPS whether or not I was volunteering in a leadership position. However I do deduct mileage to and from leadership meetings we have on other days because I would not be traveling those days if I wasn't volunteering for the church.

For another example, DH volunteers with the youth group at our church. He meets with a bunch of guys on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I don't deduct mileage to and from church on Sunday because we would be driving to church anyway for Sunday service. I also don't deduct mileage on Wednesday nights because we would be driving to church anyway to take our daughter to participate in the kids' program that night. However, if DH has a meeting scheduled related to his volunteer work that is before or after church we sometimes will take two vehicles. In these cases, I will deduct the mileage of the second vehicle because we wouldn't have driven two vehicles if it weren't for his volunteer commitment.

Here's what IRS Pub 526 says: "You can deduct the costs of gas and oil that are directly related to getting to and from the place where you are a volunteer. If you do not want to figure your actual costs, you can deduct 14 cents for each mile."

You would record this charitable mileage deduction with other charitable contributions on Schedule A of your tax return. You would record it as a non-cash gift.


I love to answer tax questions, so please don't hesitate to ask.

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