How it pays to volunteer for the tax season

Written by Henry Young. Posted in Lifestyle

 

Volunteering comes with plenty of benefits. You can learn new skills, develop a new set of notions from professionals and it can add up to your “work” experience when it comes to applying for a new job. Also, your contribution to various causes is certainly appreciated, while doing so will offer you an incredibly rewarding experience. However, volunteering will bring you some extra advantages, at least when the tax season comes. There are some deductions from which you can benefit, as described below.

Your transportation costs will be deducted

If you want, as a volunteer, you can deduct transportation expenses. Public transportation expenses such as subway, bus or cab fees may be deducted if you use such transportation means to do volunteer work. Also, you can keep track of the expenses that occurred from getting to and from an assignment if you can make proof of the gas and oil exchanges. A good alternative is getting a mileage tax deduction at the fixed rate of 0.14 cents per mile. Just so you know, if you want to deduct general car maintenance and insurance, you may not be allowed to do so, but make sure to check with a financial advisor before doing so.

Travel expenses are deductible when volunteering away from home

If you have a habit of volunteering away from your residence town, then you must know that accommodation expenses, airline tickets and associated expenses, meals during that interval, these all are deductible when the tax season comes. However, keep in mind that those expenses must be strictly associated with your volunteer work. If you attend a conference while you volunteer with Amp the Cause or as a representative of your NGO or simply have to attend one with the organization, your expenses are still deductible, however. We must not remind you that your vacation expenses are not deductible, do we?

Out-of-the pocket expenses can also be deducted

If you are the board member of an NGO, then you must know that there are plenty out-of-the-pocket expenses that are deductible: phone bills, fees associated with preparing and organizing meetings and promotional materials, purchasing certain necessary items for the volunteer work or your organization, even a lunch bill if you took a potential sponsor to grab a bite. Also, any other out-of-the-pocket expenses that may have emerged and are strictly related to your association or volunteer work can also be deducted. Here is a complete list of those items that can be deducted, from an official source.

You CAN’T deduct your time

This is unfortunate news, but if you offer your services as part of a volunteer program, you may not be able to deduct your time spent doing so. Pro bono legal advice, volunteer work at the local school off hours, these all may not be deductible. So, make sure that you inform yourself well, and if possible seek financial advice from a professional.

Make sure to keep track of all your volunteering-related expenses

Keep all your receipts and bills associated with your volunteer work in order. Keep a file in which to place those, and keep a notebook in your vehicle to keep track of your mileage. Make sure to order everything by date, chronologically. Also, keep track of the reasons for which you bought each deductible item, as you may need such information.

Those volunteering as community tax volunteers have expanded advantages

If you have some sort of financial knowledge, or even if you don’t, you might enrol in IRS community tax preparation volunteers and start helping other members of your community to fill in their taxes, pro bono. Maybe the elders in your neighbourhood, those with no idea how taxes work but also don’t have the money hire professionals to deal with their taxes. Also, people in need of help for such matters are those who don’t have English as their native language and also lack a proficiency level of understanding and using the language. Regardless, yearly volunteers are helping the IRS and those in need to fill in their taxes at no costs. And this doesn’t mean that they don’t have advantages emerging from this.

  • You have flexible volunteer hours – tax volunteers usually perform somewhere around three hours a week, starting from the middle January and up to the end of the tax season. However, how you manage your time and resources depends entirely on you.
  • You will always find a nearby VITA and TCE location – you won’t have to travel a lot in order to reach the appointed locations where you can help your community. These spaces are always frequent due to the increased load of taxes that has to be managed in this relatively short interval. Community centres, libraries, even cafes are assigned as assistance centres during the tax filling season.
  • You don’t have to have prior experience – all volunteers benefit from a training program where they learn how to properly fill in their and other’s taxes. These volunteer programs usually encourage individuals of all backgrounds and ages to enrol, as the advantages are plenty and the contribution brought to the community, immense.
  • You’ll enjoy free tax training learning materials – this comes as a great advantage for those looking forward to following a career in this direction. Tax law training, although is basic will offer you with a steady start for your future career and will help you to become more familiar with the terms and legal regulations.
  • You can continue your education as a VITA/TCE instructor. This is a great career opportunity for those who dream about a job in the field. You can read some more information by accessing the link here.

Volunteering offers fulfilment and reward, regardless of your reasons. And while helping the community, governmental bodies, such as the IRS are also helping volunteers back. Also, if you take into account a volunteering opportunity at the VITA/TCE centres, then you have some extra advantages as well. After all, volunteering does pay off for everybody involved in the matter.