Dear Tax Talk,
Are blood donations tax-deductible for volunteer donors?
While many people are fond of saying that the IRS is sucking the blood out of them, in reality the IRS prefers
cash. The same is true for charitable contributions: Cash talks, blood doesn't.
Blood isn't the same as a bag of clothes you give to the Salvation Army. With clothes, you have
basis in the assets donated and hence, that makes the contribution deductible. With blood, there is no basis and
hence, no deduction. If you sell blood, the sale is considered income.
Similarly, the value of your time is not tax-deductible, because there is no basis or cost in your
time. In order to have basis, you would have had to earn income and donated that instead. Recognizing the earned
income and the corresponding deduction results in a zero tax position, the same as if you had just volunteered
without pay or tax deduction.
You can deduct unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil that are
directly related to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization. You cannot deduct
general repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, registration fees, or the costs of tires or insurance.
If you do not want to deduct your actual expenses, you can use a standard mileage rate of 14
cents a mile to figure your contribution. You can deduct parking fees and tolls, whether you use your actual
expenses or the standard mileage rate.