I almost cannot believe that I am writing about such things again after just discussing some of the ramifications of Hurricane Harvey last week. Since then, though, Hurricane Irma arrived to carve its own path of destruction.
I do not want to go into the same levels of discussion that I did last week, but just let it be known that my heart continues to hurt for those who have been affected, but still sends out good hopes and well wishes for those whose lives have been affected.
I do want to say, though, that much like with Hurricane Harvey, the IRS is offering similar help to those newly affected, and have set up a website, located here, with all the pertinent information. Please pass that along to anyone you know who could benefit from having that knowledge.
In the midst of all these unfortunate events, though, we continue to see stories about those who do what they can to help others in need. Combine that with our remembrances of 9/11 this week, and we can be a little heartened by what we can endure, and what others will do to help us in that quest.
And since I have to tie this into something financial or tax-related in some way, I will take a little time now to give a reminder that what makes for a charitable tax deduction is not simply monetary donations, but can include expenses incurred while working for a charity.
So first off, remember that all of these deductions to be valid must involve a qualified charity. Granted, most of them are, but it never hurts to check, especially when starting a relationship with a new group, and ensure that the organization is legitimate. It is important to note that for a charitable contribution to be deductible, it must be made to such a group as an entity, and not earmarked to be set aside for a specific person or family.
Second, if you do substantial charity work for such a group and travel for it, many of those expenses can be deducted if you have not already been reimbursed for them. One thing many do not realize is that this can even include working with local organizations. If you use your car at a time for the express purpose of helping that charity, then you can even use a standard mileage rate in claiming a deduction. This will probably be easier than keeping track of exact expenses, but you will still want to keep a reliable record of this type of travel as you go, noting your mileage.
And of course, this can include longer and farther trips, too. A slight warning here, though, that the trip must involve a genuine and substantial duty to the charity and cannot be deducted if a significant portion of it was for recreation or vacation. If a trip does qualify, though, then such as expenses as air, rail and bus transportation, lodging costs, meals and certain transportation costs while at your destination become deductible.
It is a wonderful thing that there are people who give so much of themselves and their time to such noble pursuits, and it is also wonderful that they get these little bonuses for the good work that they do.
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