Donating services is a great way to help out your favorite nonprofit. Many nonprofits can’t afford to hire attorneys, designers, marketers, or other service providers, and they welcome any help you offer.
It seems logical that you’d be able to deduct the value of those donated services, but unfortunately you can’t.
What you can deduct are the travel expenses incurred while you deliver those services.
The IRS recently sent out a bulletin describing guidelines for what’s deductible.
- The expenses must be unreimbursed. If the nonprofit reimburses you for mileage, hotel stays, airfare, etc., you can’t deduct the expenses.
- The expenses have to be directly connected with the services. It would be nice if you could deduct airfare for a trip to visit a charity in Hawaii that you designed a website for, but that won’t hold up in an audit.
- The expenses must be ones you had only because you provided the donated services. If you were going to have to spend the money anyway, the cost can’t be deducted.
- The expenses can’t be personal, living, or family expenses. You can’t deduct your toothpaste, shampoo, or soap while you’re there. And you can’t write off the cost of taking your family out to dinner if they go with you.
- Your work must be for a qualified charity. The organization must be registered with the IRS. You can use the Select Check tool on IRS.gov to check the organization’s status.
- Not all types of travel count. If your travel includes recreation or vacation, you can’t deduct it.
- In order to deduct your travel expenses, you have to be doing significant work while you’re there. You can deduct air, rail, and bus transportation, car expenses, lodging costs, cost of meals, and taxi transportation between the airport or station and your hotel.
For more info on charitable contributions, check out Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.