Travel for Charity

Know these tips if you travel for charity work

Did you donate your services to charity this summer? Did you travel as part of your service? If so, some travel expenses may help lower your taxes when you file your return next year. Here are several tax tips that you should know if you travel while giving your services to charity.

• 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 services that you give to charity. This includes income lost while you work as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
• Qualified Charities — Your volunteer work must be for a qualified charity to deduct your costs. Qualified organizations must be eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. They include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are qualified, and do not need to apply to the IRS.

Ask the group about its IRS status before you donate. You can also use the Select Check tool on to check the group’s status.

• Out-of-Pocket Expenses — You may be able to deduct some costs you pay to give your services. This can include the cost of travel. The costs must be necessary while you are away from home giving your services for a qualified charity. Examples of cost include:


  • unreimbursed,
  • directly connected with the services,
  • expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and
  • not personal, living or family expenses.