5 Tips for Mission Trip Tax Deductions

Mission Trip, Charity Travel, Volunteer, Tax Deductions, Ramsey & Associates, CPA Firm, Mahtomedi, MNSummer is a great time to sign up for mission trips and serve the less fortunate across the world. Whether your destination is Haiti or Honduras, the travel and work-related expenses you incur may be deductible on next year’s tax return.

Check out these IRS guidelines to see if your trip qualifies for major deductions.

1. Qualified Charities

While churches and governmental organizations are qualified, other nonprofits must apply to the IRS. Ask the group about its IRS status before you sign up or use the Select Check tool on IRS.gov to check the organization’s status.

2. Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Throughout your trip, necessary out-of-pocket expenses you encounter may be deductible. Qualifying costs must be unreimbursed by your organization and directly connected with your work. Personal, living and family expenses do not qualify as deductible costs.

3. Genuine and Substantial Duty.

Relaxing vacations do not qualify for tax deductions. On average, the IRS recommends at least six hours of volunteer work per tax-deductible work day. Travel days are also typically considered work days. Days off and sightseeing days are totally fine-just be aware that related expenses are not tax deductible.

4. Value of Time and Service

Taking a couple weeks off work to go on your church’s mission trip? You can’t deduct the value of services you give to charity. This includes income lost while you work as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.

5. Deductible Travel

Deductible traveling expenses often include transportation by air rail, bus, taxi or rental car. Costs of lodging and meals also usually qualify for deductions.

Paying for someone else to go on a mission trip this summer? While many of us have received letters from relatives and friends asking for support, contributions are only tax deductible if they are designated for the entire group. From a tax perspective, the best way for a mission trip to fundraise is by working toward one collective financial goal.

Want to learn more about charity travel and mission trip tax deductions? Contact Ramsay & Associates today. Safe and happy travels!

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.