Sunday, April 25, 2010

Volunteering for dollars

It has been almost five years since I've been to New Orleans.  The last time I was there was the month before Katrina and I have been trying to get back ever since.  I had been a regular visitor for some time before that and like to think of the Crescent City; if not a second home then at least another place I could happily live. Late last year, I started giving serious thought to going back.  This was shortly after I learned my assignment was ending but I still wanted to make this happen. 

With the city still rebuilding, I decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.  As my Facebook friends can attest, I've been spending quite a bit a time playing "Barb the Builder" so I was happy to learn that there is another way to give back besides swinging a hammer.  It's called Habitat ReStore and I'll share more about that in my next post.

So how does this work for A Frugal Girl?  Evidently, Uncle Sam will allow you to write off certain aspects of volunteering as a charitable deduction.  As a landlord, I am always interested in deductions to my bottom line.  I won't know until next year the affects of this adventure (good or bad) but until then here are somethings to consider:

  • The IRS has very strict guidelines regarding volunteer deductions.  I referenced to IRS publication 529 Charitable Donations at IRS.gov 
  • You should have detailed records of your trip (i.e. receipts and information from the volunteer organization.)
  • Consult a professional to make sure this benefits your situation!
You don't have to hop on a plane to take advantage of this opportunity.  I will admit that swapping 40 degree weather for high 70's was wonderful!