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Zaher Fallahi, CPA; IRS offers the following tips on charity travel

posted Jul 31, 2016, 9:59 PM by Zaher Fallahi

Do you plan to contribute your time to charity this summer? If you travel for it, you may lower your income taxes. Here are some tax tips that you could use to deduct charity-related travel expenses:


Qualified Charities

To deduct your costs, you must volunteer for a qualified charity; 501(c)(3). Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified, and do not need to apply to the IRS. Ask the group about its status before you donate. Use the Select Check tool  on to check a group’s status. 


Out-of-Pocket Expenses

You may deduct some of your costs including travel. They must be necessary while you are away from home. All costs must be:

1) Unreimbursed,

2) Directly connected with the services,

3) Expenses you had because of the services you donate, and

4) Not personal, living or family expenses. Always remove the personal or family expenses.


Genuine and Substantial Duty

Your charity work has to be 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. 


Value of Time or Service

 You can’t deduct the value of your time or services that you give to charity. This includes lost income while serving as an unpaid volunteer for a charity. 


Travel You Can Deduct

The types of expenses that you may deduct include:  

1) Air, rail and bus transportation,  

2) Car expenses,

3) Lodging costs,

4) Cost of meals, and

5) Taxi or other transportation costs related to the trip. 


Travel You Can’t Deduct

Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can’t deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or vacation.


Zaher Fallahi, CPA, Tax attorney, advises taxpayers including Americans-living abroad, with their taxes, IRS representation, foreign accounts (FBAR, FATCA, OVDP, foreign trusts). Telephones (310) 719-1040 (Los Angeles), (714) 546-4272 (Orange County), or e-mail to: