How to Claim Charitable Mileage Deductions

Every little deduction helps when it comes to filing your taxes, so if you’ve been driving your car for charitable purposes, keeping accurate records can increase your tax refund at the end of the year. Examples of charitable mileage include driving to a work site to help build a home for a charitable organization, delivering meals on behalf of a charity, or driving to the office of a charitable organization where you work as a volunteer. Knowing the rules for claiming your deduction ensures that you don’t miss out on your maximum tax refund.

Tip

If you are using your vehicle for charitable purposes, you will be able to deduct your mileage expenses on Schedule A of your tax return.

Calculating the Deduction

To calculate how much you can deduct on your taxes for charitable mileage, multiply the number of miles you drove for charitable purposes during the year by the mileage rate for charitable miles. For both 2017 and 2018, the rate is 14 cents per mile. For example, if you drove 400 miles for charitable purposes, multiply 400 miles by $0.14 per mile to find that you can claim a $56 deduction on your taxes. Alternatively, you could opt to keep more detailed records and deduct your actual costs for the gas and oil your car used while driving.

Reporting on Your Taxes

When you file your taxes, you report your charitable mileage deduction as a noncash charitable contribution on line 17 of Schedule A, along with any other noncash contributions such as donations of furniture, clothing, stock or land. You combine that amount with your other charitable deductions, and ultimately with any other itemized deductions, and use it to replace your standard deduction.

You must itemize your deductions if you want to claim a deduction for any charitable contributions, including mileage, which means you can’t claim the standard deduction. If your standard deduction is larger than the sum of your itemized deductions, you won’t be able to deduct the charitable miles you drove.

Records You Need To Keep

You don’t have to submit any records to the IRS when you file your tax return, but you do need to keep them in the event that your return gets audited. You should have a record of all your charitable trips including when you took them, how far you drove and the charitable purpose of each trip to support your deduction. You need to keep these records as you drive or shortly thereafter rather than waiting until the end of the year and then trying to recreate your records.

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About the Author

Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."


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