Tax Tips for Nonprofit Volunteers

Volunteers are an indispensable aspect of any nonprofit organization or charity. They help complete the daily tasks required, which allows your organization to continue reaching its mission or goal.
Many of you may already have a process in place for recruiting volunteers – email blasts, social media, sign-up events, and others.
But the key to secure potential volunteers is transparency. From the start, let your prospects know what you’re aiming to achieve and how they can assist. Another way to entice is explaining the benefits of volunteering. One of the many incentives for people donating services are the tax deductions.

Here are a few tips and guidelines from the IRS about claiming credits from services to charity.

Qualified Organization
Before your volunteers can deduct any service costs, the nonprofit or charity must be officially recognized by the IRS as a Section 501(c)(3) exempt organization – this leads right back to being transparent with your potential helpers. You’re obligated to explain whether your nonprofit is officially tax-exempt, waiting on approval, or haven’t even registered. Church and government organizations are automatically qualified.

Out-of-Pocket Spending
Volunteers can deduct traveling costs necessary to donate their services. All costs must meet the following criteria for eligibility:

  • Unreimbursed expenses
  • Fees accrued due to given services
  • No living, family, or personal expenses
  • Costs directly related to donated services

Substantial & Authentic Work
Your volunteers must perform work that is “real and valuable” to the organization. Any travel expenses are ineligible for tax credits if the volunteer duties were minimal or have no impact or significant importance with your nonprofit or charity.

Value of Services & Time
According to the IRS, volunteers can’t deduct the value of their donated services – what this means is that they can’t claim what they would typically charge for a particular service. For example, let’s say a caterer volunteers to feed your fundraising event or gala – they’re ineligible to write-off the usual amount they would’ve charged to cater such an event; however, the cost of supplies, utilities, and travel for the event are approved deductions.

Claims on Travel Costs
Travel expenses that volunteers can deduct includes

  • Car expenses
  • Lodging costs
  • Meal expenses
  • Train, air, and bus transportation
  • Other transportation costs needed for local travel

Check with your community’s tax professional or CPA about how you can further explain the tax incentives for nonprofit volunteers. And once you’ve got your volunteer situation complete, visit us at for all your federal e-filing needs.

With our services, you can e-file IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard), 990-EZ, 990 (long), and Extension Form 8868 for an automatic, 3-month tax extension. Time is starting to wind down for those of you who extended your IRS deadline to November 15 – e-file right now with to avoid any late filing fees.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the e-filing process, our U.S. – based customer support is ready to help out. Call us at 704.839.2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or email us at your convenience with [email protected].

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