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Deducting charitable travel


Dear Tax Talk,
My wife was a coach for a club volleyball organization. This involved a lot of travel miles on our vehicle, both to practices and to games. The organization said to keep track of mileage as it is tax deductible. Is it true that I can claim it this year? How? -- Josh

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Dear Josh,
You didn't say if your wife is performing her coaching as a job or as a volunteer for a charitable organization. Assuming she's working as a volunteer, you can deduct her mileage -- provided the organization is a qualified charitable organization.

However, a "club" is not necessarily a qualified charitable organization. In fact, Table 1 on page 2 of Internal Revenue Service Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, states that a sports club is not a charitable organization. An Internet search does turn up various charitable organizations that are affiliated with sports, however. USA Volleyball, for example, states that it is a charitable organization, contributions to which are tax deductible. The key: Make sure the organization is an IRS-approved charity.

Assuming the organization that your wife is coaching for is a qualified charitable organization, her mileage and other volunteer expenses would be deductible as charitable contributions on Schedule A of Form 1040. The rate varies annually due to inflation. For 2003, the standard mileage rate is 14 cents per mile.

Other expenses you can deduct if they are paid in connection with charitable work include parking, uniform costs and laundry, out-of-town travel such as airfare and hotel charges if the principal purpose of the travel and lodging is related to approved volunteer work.

-- Posted: Oct. 8, 2003




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