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Yes. But if you spend two days looking for that machine for your business and then decide to spend five days going to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Muscle Beach and the Getty Museum, I bet you're not supposed to deduct your airfare.

Well, as long as I can prove to the IRS that the purpose of the trip was to look at the machine and I didn't deduct any of the meals or lodging on the extra days, I don't think the air fare would be a problem.

In fact, If I looked at the machine and was negotiating for the price or something so I had to spend 5 days there, I could deduct the lodging and meals but not the mileage to get to and from the "fun" places.

Of course, I'm really thinking about business expenses and you're dealing with charity.

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p526/ar02.html


I asked a similar question on this board--if I go to Costa Rica for the purpose of tutoring English and spend an equal amount of time visiting friends and the beach, can I deduct the airfare. And the resident knuckledragger said no.

First, I haven't seen any knuckledraggers on this board.

Second, posters are taking the time to read your post and to try and understand it. They are then answering your question given the information in Publication 526.

Third, I do remember the post. I would think you would have to decide if you fit example 3 or 4. Also, this is talking about the travel while you are away...not necessarily the cost to get there. I didn't see anything about the travel to get there.

Travel. Generally, you can claim a charitable contribution deduction for travel expenses necessarily incurred while you are away from home performing services for a charitable organization only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel. This applies whether you pay the expenses directly or indirectly. You are paying the expenses indirectly if you make a payment to the charitable organization and the organization pays for your travel expenses.

The deduction for travel expenses will not be denied simply because you enjoy providing services to the charitable organization. Even if you enjoy the trip, you can take a charitable contribution deduction for your travel expenses if you are on duty in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip. However, if you have only nominal duties, or if for significant parts of the trip you do not have any duties, you cannot deduct your travel expenses.

Example 1.

You are a troop leader for a tax-exempt youth group and you help take the group on a camping trip. You are responsible for overseeing the setup of the camp and for providing adult supervision for other activities during the entire trip. You participate in the activities of the group and really enjoy your time with them. You oversee the breaking of camp and you help transport the group home. You can deduct your travel expenses.

Example 2.

You sail from one island to another and spend 8 hours a day counting whales and other forms of marine life. The project is sponsored by a charitable organization. In most circumstances, you cannot deduct your expenses.

Example 3.

You work for several hours each morning on an archaeological dig sponsored by a charitable organization. The rest of the day is free for recreation and sightseeing. You cannot take a charitable contribution deduction even though you work very hard during those few hours.

Example 4.

You spend the entire day attending a charitable organization's regional meeting as a chosen representative. In the evening you go to the theater. You can claim your travel expenses as charitable contributions, but you cannot claim the cost of your evening at the theater.


Oh, are you volunteering after you get there? Is there something "special" about you that the organization needs you to be there to tutor? Like a representative to a conference?

"Conventions. If you are a chosen representative attending a convention of a qualified organization, you can deduct unreimbursed expenses for travel and transportation, including a reasonable amount for meals and lodging, while away from home overnight in connection with the convention. However, see Travel, later.

You cannot deduct personal expenses for sightseeing, fishing parties, theater tickets, or nightclubs. You also cannot deduct travel, meals and lodging, and other expenses for your spouse or children.

You cannot deduct your expenses in attending a church convention if you go only as a member of your church rather than as a chosen representative. You can deduct unreimbursed expenses that are directly connected with giving services for your church during the convention."

I suggest you read Pub 526 and see how it applies to your situation. I can guarantee that the IRS is NOT going to take "some knuckledragger on a message board said" as authoritative.

Jean...knuckledragger.
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