John Bullis: More charitable contributions you can claim

There is no deduction for your time spent on behalf of a church or charity. However, there are some costs you pay that can be deducted on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions of form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

If you use your car or truck for charity, deduct the related costs or the flat-rate deduction of 14 cents per mile, plus parking fees. Also you can deduct plane, train or bus costs for traveling to charitable events.

You can deduct the full costs of long-distance telephone calls, faxes and cell phone charges made on behalf of a charity. If you install a landline in your home that you use exclusively for charitable purposes, the entire cost is deductible.

If you host a fundraiser or board meeting at your home, you can deduct the cost of the catering expenses, or your direct costs as a charitable deduction.

If you attend a fundraising dinner, you can deduct the portion of your cost that is greater than the fair market value of the dinner. For example, if you attend a dinner that costs $100 each. If the meal is valued at $40 each, you can deduct the excess cost of $60 ($100-$40). Note that if the amount is more than $75, you need written documentation from the charity.

If you pay for uniforms and/or the cost of cleaning the uniforms that are used while performing charitable services, that cost is deductible. That assumes the clothing/uniforms are not suitable for everyday wear. The classic example is the cost of Boy Scout uniforms.

If you host a foreign exchange student in your home, you can deduct up to $50 per month for each month the child attends high school. I realize the amount was set a long time ago and hasn't been adjusted for inflation for many years. The student must live in your home under a written agreement with the charity and the student can not be your relative.

If you attend a convention on behalf of the charity, the cost of meals and lodging will be a charitable deduction. You need to be an official delegate and the convention must be the primary purpose of the trip. However, any side trips to tourist attractions is not deductible.

All of these can add up over time. Keep the records at least four years, just in case IRS were to inquire (as they have the right to do).

Did you hear? "It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have that makes all the difference".

• John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser serving Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs, LLC.


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