Many people question stay-at-home mothers that volunteer their services for various charitable organizations. Besides the good feeling of doing right by others, there is now another great benefit that those ‘volunteers’ can claim.
Not only stay-at-home mothers volunteer, however. In the animal world, it takes a host of people of all ages, all background and all abilities to try to rescue helpless animals from the throes of being tossed out like yesterday’s garbage. Thanks to their hard work and dedications, all of the volunteers are making a difference in the animal rescue world.
As any good volunteer know, it takes hours of willingness to prepare fundraisers on behalf of charitable organizations. To pay these individuals back for at least a portion of their time and services, the IRS is offering write-offs for unreimbursed expenses incurred during the volunteer hours. If the person works for the actual charity for free, the IRS states that these people are unable to claim charitable deductions for their unreimbursed expenses; claiming that they are actually nondeductible personal expenditures – unless the expense helps further the efforts of the charity, like fostering stray animals.
Thanks to the U.S. Tax Court’s decision in 2011, animal rescue volunteers can claim deductions for rescued animals cared for within the rescuer’s home, provided the rescuer is able to keep the expenses for the rescued animals separate from the expenses of their personal pets.
It is pertinent that all records of expenses be kept in order to be able to take the write-offs, however. In order to get the benefits from all the hard work it takes to be an animal rescue volunteer, note that the key requirement is a letter from the actual charity acknowledging your volunteer work for expenses greater than $250 or more. The letter has to be issued prior to the due date for the tax return (April 15th in most cases) and come with charity letterhead. You must also note that if the IRS disputes the deductions that are claimed, the charity you work for must be willing to authorize that the animals are kept in the home by the individual filing the return.
Keep receipts for any of the following: animal food, medications, cat litter, litter boxes, pet dishes, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, paper towels, laundry and dish detergent, animal bedding, animal toys (especially ones that can help with behavior modification and well-being), any fees associated with veterinarians or behavioral specialists and trainers and food for volunteers that are building temporary shelters for pets in flood zones due to hurricanes.
If part of the responsibility that the tax-paying volunteer incurs has to do with leaving their actual home to travel to and from animal shelters, vet offices, committee meetings, fundraising events, or to pick-up rescued animals, expenses having to do with plane, train, bus, and taxi services should be kept as well. These fares can be claimed as travel expenses.
Automobile expenses have one of two options (just like any other time a tax-payer is claiming auto expenses). Both gas and oil can be written off or you can claim standard mileage (14 cents per mile). Tolls and parking expenses are also tax write-offs, but depreciation on the vehicle, insurance or car repairs are not.
These are just a few things to keep in mind. Works of charity are under-appreciated. At least the IRS is trying to lend some help as their thank you. There may be other expenses that a volunteer can write off if they work for or under an animal rescue. The best thought is to check with a tax accountant to make certain.