It Pays to Volunteer This Tax Season

It Pays to Volunteer This Tax Season

Guest post by Cyndi Meuchel

Did you know that it pays to volunteer? Not only are you pitching in and supporting a good cause, but there are all kinds of deductions you could be eligible for come tax time. Tax season in the U.S. begins on Monday, January 29, 2018.

Here are some very useful tax deductions to make note of for volunteering. Before we get started, note that I am not a financial planner, so please check with a tax professional for expert advice.


Volunteers may deduct transportation expenses if they choose. They must be incurred getting to and from a volunteer assignment or during the volunteer work itself, for example, delivering food to an ailing patient.

You can keep track of actual driving expenses such as gas and oil changes, or simply take a mileage deduction at the rate of $.14 cents per mile. General car maintenance or insurance may not be deducted but parking fees and tolls are allowable expenses. And public transportation expenses such as subway, bus or taxi fees may also be deducted.


Airfare, accommodation, and meals are allowable expenses when performing volunteer services away from home. Therefore, volunteer-related travel expenses are also deductible! This can happen when attending a conference or convention, or during a community service trip. Expenses must be directly related to the volunteer work itself. Leisure activities and personal vacation days are not allowable expenses.

Other Expenses

Other out-of-pocket expenses may be covered as well. If you take a potential donor out to lunch, for example, that may be deducted. Board members may deduct phone charges, postage and copying fees associated with preparing for meetings. If you are required to wear a specific uniform while volunteering — or perhaps an apron for cooking — the cost of the uniform may be deducted in addition to upkeep and maintenance.

Check out this list from the IRS on all items that are tax deductions for volunteers.


Unfortunately, your time volunteering may not be deducted. This includes professional time spent on sharing pro bono legal advice or helping draft a nonprofit’s newsletter.

Keep Track

It’s a good idea to keep careful track of your volunteer expenses throughout the year. Leave a notebook in your car or purse to track mileage and other transportation-related expenses. Keep all receipts of things that you may want to deduct and make careful notes about each item, such as when and why it was purchased.

Tax deductions for volunteering might not add up to a huge amount of money, but it is a nice incentive to keep up with doing good. Have a tax tip to share with our readers? Post it in the comments section below!


Author Bio: Cyndi Meuchel serves as board president for a local networking group and is the founder of MoneyMinder Treasury Software — a digital accounting software that’s affordable, easy-to-use, and all-around perfect for the small nonprofit.