LEGAL CORNER: Is the volunteer work I do tax deductible?

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:39 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: I am retired so, I volunteer with several non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. I live on a fixed income and the cost of fuel is a little expensive. I have a side job that doesn’t pay very much but deducts taxes from my income. Is the volunteer work that I do tax deductible?

ANSWER: Any volunteer of a §501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization is entitled to receive deductible charitable contributions. Although no tax deduction is allowed for the value of the services performed for this type of organization, some deductions are permitted for out-of-pocket costs incurred while volunteering, such as:

  • Away-from-home travel expenses while performing services for a charity (out-of-pocket round-trip travel cost, taxi fares and other costs of transportation between the airport or station and hotel, plus lodging and meals with proof that all activities were associated with the work.
  • The cost of entertaining others on behalf of a charity, such as dining a potential large contributor — but the cost of the volunteer’s own entertainment or meal is not deductible.
  • If the volunteer uses their own car while performing services for a charitable organization they may deduct their actual unreimbursed expenses directly attributable to the services, such as gas and oil costs. Alternatively, they may deduct a flat $0.14 per mile for charitable use of their car.
  • Volunteers can deduct the cost of a uniform worn when doing volunteer work for a charity, as long as the uniform has no general utility (e.g., a volunteer ambulance worker’s jumpsuit).

(Mike Slack The Tax Institute, H&R Block)

QUESTION: My wife and I are both in a nursing home, but we would like to participate in the elections for the Sheriff and Judges. Is that permitted? We are not mentally ill or anything, just unable to take care of ourselves at home and we have no one to help us.

ANSWER: A voter who is a resident of a nursing home must provide, to the registrar of voters, a certification from the voter that indicates that the voter is a resident of the nursing home. An application shall be submitted to and received by the registrar of voters at least thirty days prior to the election. At this time early voting is Sept. 30 – Oct. 7.

The registrar shall notify the applicant by letter, at the return nursing home address shown on the request, the day on which a deputy registrar or other qualified person selected by the registrar will be present at the nursing home to permit the applicant to cast his ballot (La. Stat. tit. 18 § 1333 (2)) For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters office at (337) 721-4000.