Tips for RVer’s Who Travel for Charity Work

As a Workamper, will you be volunteering for some organization this summer? Some travel expenses may help lower your taxes if you itemize deductions when you file next year. Here are five tax tips the IRS wants you to know about travel while serving a charity.

1. You must volunteer to work for a qualified non-profit organization. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status.  Visit the web site “” and use the Select Check tool to see if the group is qualified.

2. You may be able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses you pay while serving as a volunteer. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services, however.

3. The deduction qualifies only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel. However, the deduction will qualify even if you enjoy the trip.  The volunteer work must be the main purpose of the trip.  Be sure to write that in to your travel/work log.  You do keep one don’t you?

4. You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.

5. Deductible travel expenses may include:

  • Air, rail and bus transportation
  • Car expenses
  • Taxi fares or other transportation costs between the work site and your RV.

If you are not a full-timer, that is you have a home base for which you must duplicate your living expenses while you are “away-from-home”, you may also deduct:

  • Lodging costs (if paid and not provided for you)
  • The cost of meals
  • And laundry and incidentals

If you have questions or want to discuss send me an email to or call me at 480-290-1310.  I prefer an email. They’re easier to keep track of and gives me time to think of the response. I am happy to discuss short answer questions without charge.  If we feel that the time and discussion will be indepth with a specific purpose in mind I will let you know if a billable situation might be necessary.

To learn more see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).