Have you ever thought about volunteering while on vacation? Did you know you can volunteer during your vacation as a family? Last year 77.34 million adults volunteered through an organization in 2018. Performing philanthropic deeds are not isolated to the US nor is it isolated to giving. Last year Americans gave $427.71 billion to charities with the bulk of donations coming from individuals. There are many organizations you can volunteer with including: your local church, nonprofit organizations, employer, etc.
Organizations such as GVI offer multiple options to volunteer abroad. There are several volunteer categories and include the following:
- Volunteer with Animals
- Reintroduce rescued animals into the wild
- Animal welfare center
- Protect the jaguar population in Costa Rica
- Preserve the cheetah population in South Africa
- Help baby sea turtles in Greece
- Environmental Vacation: Help to save the ecosystem
- Save Thailand’s coastline
- Conserve the Seychelles
- Protect the Mesoamerican barrier reef in Mexico
- Construction Program
- Help earthquake victims in Nepal
- Repair and Upgrade homes in India
Volunteering abroad offers both short term and long-term opportunities. Many volunteer abroad programs require the volunteer to pay their way for their program. The joy and feeling you get from giving back will outweigh the financial expense. There is an opportunity to write off some of your expenses when you file taxes, here are some tax tips for taxpayers to use when deducting charity-related travel expenses:
- Qualified Charities. For a taxpayer to deduct costs, they must volunteer for a qualified charity. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified, and do not need to apply to the IRS. A taxpayer should ask the group about its status before they donate. Taxpayers can also use the Select Check tool on IRS.gov to check a group’s status.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses. A taxpayer may be able to deduct some of their costs including travel. These out-of-pocket expenses must be necessary while the taxpayer is away from home. All costs must be:
- Directly connected with the services,
- Expenses the taxpayer had only because of the services the taxpayer gave, and
- Not personal, living or family expenses.
- Genuine and Substantial Duty. The charity work the taxpayer is involved with has to be real and substantial throughout the trip. The taxpayer can’t deduct expenses if they only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
- Value of Time or Service. A taxpayer can’t deduct the value of their time or services that they give to charity. This includes income lost while the taxpayer serves as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
- Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can Deduct. The types of expenses a taxpayer may be able to deduct include:
- Air, rail and bus transportation,
- Car expenses,
- Lodging costs,
- Cost of meals, and
- Taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and their hotel.
- Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can’t Deduct. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, a taxpayer can’t deduct their costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or vacation. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tips-to-keep-in-mind-for-taxpayers-traveling-for-charity.
Visit organizations such as GVI at https://www.gviusa.com/volunteer-abroad/ to learn more about the programs offered and sign-up for your first or next volunteer opportunity.
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