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Tax information for volunteers

If you itemize your deductions and perform services for a qualified charitable organization, you can deduct your out-of-pocket expenses on your income tax return. For more information, visit

How to report these expenses 

  • You must file Form 1040. 
  • You must itemize deductions on Schedule A. 
  • If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is over $500, you must also complete Section A of Form 8283 and attach it to your Form 1040. 
  • The IRS does not re-quire you to keep your records in a particular way. You should keep your records in an orderly fashion and in a safe place. 

Unreimbursed expenses that volunteers may deduct as a charitable gift might include: 

  • Actual car expenses directly related to the use of your car in giving services or you can use a standard mileage rate to figure your contribution. 
  • Parking fees, tolls, taxi fares. 
  • Cost of attending a convention or meeting including airfare, registration fees, meals and lodging only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel (Note that charitable travel expenses are not subject to the same limits as business related expenses and may be 100% deductible. 
  • Telephone calls, materials, supplies, the cost of operating or renting equipment. 
  • Cost of ingredients or materials that go into something you donate. 

Records to keep 

  • Keep a written record of trips including the date, purpose of the trip; starting point, destination and number of miles traveled. To make it easy, record the starting odometer reading and subtract it from the ending odometer reading after the trip is completed. 
  • Keep the receipts for everything you buy for donation or for use in providing a volunteer service. 
  • Other acceptable types of records include canceled checks, written receipts, and reliable written records made at or near the time that the expense was incurred. 
  • Write down the details of other items donated including a description or the item, date donated, and fair value of the item. 
  • Keep letters you receive that acknowledge your contributions.
  • A diary or journal is helpful for jotting down mileage or expense items as they occur. 
  • Contributions you cannot deduct 
  • The value of your time or services. 
  • The value of income lost while you work as an unpaid volunteer. 
  • Personal, living or family expenses. 
  • Contributions from which you benefit. 
  • Contributions to individuals or nonqualified organizations. 

Limits on deductions 

If your contributions for the year are more than 20% of your adjusted gross income, including out-of-pocket amounts spent per-forming services for a charitable organization, certain limits may apply. 

What is a qualified organization? 

Generally, qualified organizations include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. 

Ramsey County is a political sub-division of the State of Minnesota, and as such is a tax-exempt entity within the meaning of Section 170 C (1) of the Internal Revenue Code. 


This information is of a general nature. No one should act upon it without appropriate professional advice and a thorough examination of the facts of their situation.

Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - 7:05 a.m.