Tax deductions for volunteer time

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. I volunteer as a soccer coach. Can I deduct the cost of mileage for when I travel to games and practices? What else can I deduct, like equipment I buy or training I have to take? And my son is on the team, so I can deduct the training costs we pay to the team for our professional trainer? What am I forgetting?
— Coach

A. Your volunteerism will lead to some deductions, but you can’t deduct all the costs you mentioned.

The IRS allows a deduction for the cost of travel to practices, games and meetings that you are required to attend, said Steve Gallo, a certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

He said you can only take the cost of gas, tolls and parking, and not repairs or depreciation. You have the option of tracking your actual gas expenses or using the IRS standard rate of 14 cents per mile.

There are other deductions you can take.

“You may deduct the cost of any training you are required to receive and supplies or equipment you purchase for the team,” Gallo said. “In addition, you are entitled to deduct the cost of any required uniforms as well as the cost to maintain them.”

You can also deduct for postage and stationary if you are required to do any mailing in relation to your volunteer duties, Gallo said.

For your son, you’re out of luck. His personal training costs are not deductible because they’re for the benefit of your son, not the charity.

“Keep in mind that you must itemize on your tax return in order to deduct these costs and the volunteer organization must be a IRS qualified charity,” Gallo said.

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