IRS Tax Deductions for Church Work

You can write off many of your volunteer expenses, but not your time.
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If you are a regular volunteer at your church, you might be able to claim a few extra deductions. While you won't get anything for your time, many of the expenses that come from volunteering are deductible. By taking advantage of these deductions, you'll be able to cut down your tax bill while carrying out a good deed.

Volunteer Hours

The IRS does not give a tax deduction for the hours spent at a charity. It doesn't matter how valuable your time is or how long you spend at your church, you won't get any benefit for your taxes. Even if you're a professional donating your services, like a carpenter building furniture for free, you still will not receive a tax deduction. For the most part, the IRS allows a tax deduction only when you give away tangible assets, such as cash or property.


If you buy something for your church and the church doesn't pay you back, you are allowed to deduct the cost of the goods from your taxes. This could be things like buying stamps for a church flyer or donating food for a dinner to raise funds. If you need to buy special clothing or a costume for church events, you can deduct the purchase price plus upkeep costs. According to the IRS, the outfit is only deductible if it is not suitable for day-to-day use.

Travel Expenses

You can also deduct the cost of getting to your church for your volunteering. The IRS notes, "You can deduct unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, that are directly related to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization." Alternatively, you can deduct mileage. As of 2012, you can deduct 14 cents per mile driven on behalf of a charity. You can also deduct the cost of any tolls along the way and the cost of parking. If you don't have a car, you can deduct the cost of taxi, bus or train fares to and from your church. The travel deductions don't apply to everything though. You aren't able to write off the cost of your car's insurance, repairs or depreciation in the name of charity.

Childcare Expenses Not Deductible

The IRS does not allow a deduction for childcare expenses for volunteers. "You cannot deduct payments for child care expenses as a charitable contribution," the IRS explains, "even if they are necessary so you can do volunteer work for a qualified organization."

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