I occasionally help a couple of beagle rescue societies by transporting dogs to new homes, which is typically a couple hundred miles or more. One of the rescue folks reminded me that since they are a 501(c)(3) organization, I can deduct mileage for these runs. Since my returns are already plenty complicated, I am wary of adding anything else that will come up as an audit flag (I have enough of that already). So here are the questions:- Are mileage deductions a form of begging for an audit?- If not, what do I need to do to document the mileage?
I'd vote for taking all deductions that are properly documented, audit be damned. Just keep or create a written record of your mileage. The deduction is $.14 per mile. You can also take parking and tolls in addition, just keep the receipts.
- Are mileage deductions a form of begging for an audit?No more than any other deduction; if you're entitled to it, then you should take it. And note too that charitable car expenses are counted as a cash deduction - that is, they are lumped together with your (cash or check) contributions to the Red Cross, Goodwill, your church, whatever. - If not, what do I need to do to document the mileage?You need reliable written records, and by that the IRS means records made at the time of the expense. (You can't sit down in February and say, "Let's see, I did 175 miles or so back in May, another 75 in August, and I think maybe around 120 in October.") Instead, just keep a little notebook in your glove compartment in which you enter dates, mileage, and the name of the organization on whose bealf you incurred the expense. You can keep track of actual expense (gas/oil/tolls/etc.) but that gets kind of iffy, sorting out charitable use from personal use. It's far easier to just count miles and use the allowed charitable rate, which is 14 cents/mile these days. (I know about all this because my wife does a lot of volunteer work, and she keeps meticulous records of this kind...) Lorenzo
Can I jump in here with a question? I do a good amount of volunteer work which involves driving, too.My records have been kept on my PC - using Lotus 1-2-3. I'm horrible at keeping track of paper, so I started doing spreadsheet logs years ago when I was driving on business daily.Does the IRS have a position on spreadsheet logs? I haven't been audited so I don't know if my stuff is good in court.
Can I jump in here with a question? I do a good amount of volunteer work which involves driving, too.My records have been kept on my PC - using Lotus 1-2-3. I'm horrible at keeping track of paper, so I started doing spreadsheet logs years ago when I was driving on business daily.Does the IRS have a position on spreadsheet logs? I haven't been audited so I don't know if my stuff is good in court. Whether or not the IRS has a position on spreadsheet logs should be irrelevant to your decision to take the deduction. You are entitled to deduct the miles driven for charitable purposes (at $.14/mile). If by some chance you are audited, the spreadsheet logs may or may not be acceptable. If they aren't, all you will owe is the tax on the disallowed deduction (and the interest for the time you had the money). Of course, if you drove 10,000 miles/year, you are only looking at a $1,400 deduction which will yield a few hundred dollars in tax savings. The risk isn't that great that you should forego a deduction to which you are entitled.Ira
I appreciate your insights. I haven't looked at the bottom line of the spreadsheet, but it may be substantial. I became known as 'The Donut Man' locally because I drove several 350 mile round trips to pick up Krispy Kreme donuts for fund raisers. Amazing! The schools and churches raised several thousand in profits from the 2,000 + dozen donuts involved! And I don't eat donuts. Since that was the sole purpose of each trip, I think it's Charity Mileage.Then my wife volunteered for a Church Thrift Shop (25 mile RT) daily for over 3 months. (They hired her after that, although she didn't want to be an employee!)My read is that each 25 mile day is also charity mileage? That's what it looked like in TurboTax HELP.Thanks much ...
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