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Hedgehog

It's Tax Deductible -- Even if You Have Fun!

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As we approach tax season, I thought I'd share some information on charitable deductions.  If you are a registered leader, you can deduct your mileage, tolls, food costs and lodging costs for Boy Scout trips as charitable contrbutions for outings where you function as a leader.  For mileage, you can take a deduction for 14 cents per mile.  For the other expenses, you can deduct what you actually paid.  You most likely can't deduct fees paid for activities such as canoing, kayaking, horseback riding, etc. because participating in that activity isn't a necessary part of being a leader.  Also, if you are reimbursed by the Troop, that amount would reduce your expenses.  My favorite line in the IRS publication is that the travel expenses are deductible even if you enjoy yourself -- not that any of us enjoy a weekend camping in the woods and eating from Dutch Ovens. :D

 

From IRS Publication 526 - https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Publication-526 :

 

Car expenses. You can deduct as a charitable contribution any unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, directly related to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization. You can't deduct general repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, registration fees, or the costs of tires or insurance.  If you don't want to deduct your actual expenses, you can use a standard mileage rate of 14 cents a mile to figure your contribution.  You can deduct parking fees and tolls whether you use your actual expenses or the standard mileage rate.  You must keep reliable written records of your car expenses. For more information, see Car expenses under Records To Keep, later.

 

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 won't 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 don't have any duties, you can't deduct your travel expenses.

 

Example 1. You are a troop leader for a tax-exempt youth group and you 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 enjoy your time with them. You oversee the breaking of camp and you transport the group home. You can deduct your travel expenses.

 

***

 

Deductible travel expenses. These include:

 

·         Air, rail, and bus transportation,

 

·         Out of pocket expenses for your car,

 

·         Taxi fares or other costs of transportation between the airport or station and your hotel,

 

·         Lodging costs, and

 

·         The cost of meals.

 

As I'm a praticing tax lawyer, I need to say that this post is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as tax advice regarding your specific situation.  Consult your lawyer, accountant, tax preparer or Cousin Vinnie if necessary.

Edited by Hedgehog
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It's my understanding you can also deduct the cost of uniforms and parts that are unique to BSA and generally cannot be worn for other purposes. For example, if your troop is "full uniform", you can deduct the cost of the full uniform.  

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Wish I'd known this years ago.

 

Don't feel bad, I just realized this yesterday after some research and I'm a tax attorney.  I did the math.  I drove over 2000 miles last year and spent around $250 for food and lodging (campsite fees) for outings.  Based on some quick math, that is probably $150 reduction in tax (assuming a 30% marginal tax rate).

 

It's my understanding you can also deduct the cost of uniforms and parts that are unique to BSA and generally cannot be worn for other purposes. For example, if your troop is "full uniform", you can deduct the cost of the full uniform.  

 

From the same IRS publication:

 

Uniforms. You can deduct the cost and up­ keep of uniforms that aren't suitable for every­ day use and that you must wear while perform­ ing donated services for a charitable organization. 

 

So the shirt, patches and neckerchief would be deductible.   If you have the patches sewn on your uniform or have the uniform laundered, it would be deductible.  The pants and socks would not because they are suitable for everyday use.  If you need hiking boots for the 50 mile trek... not deductible.  Too bad I can't deduct all the camping and backpacking gear I bought...  

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Don't feel bad, I just realized this yesterday after some research and I'm a tax attorney.  I did the math.  I drove over 2000 miles last year and spent around $250 for food and lodging (campsite fees) for outings.  Based on some quick math, that is probably $150 reduction in tax (assuming a 30% marginal tax rate).

 

 

From the same IRS publication:

 

Uniforms. You can deduct the cost and up­ keep of uniforms that aren't suitable for every­ day use and that you must wear while perform­ ing donated services for a charitable organization. 

 

So the shirt, patches and neckerchief would be deductible.   If you have the patches sewn on your uniform or have the uniform laundered, it would be deductible.  The pants and socks would not because they are suitable for everyday use.  If you need hiking boots for the 50 mile trek... not deductible.  Too bad I can't deduct all the camping and backpacking gear I bought...  

 

One of my previous SM was audited by the IRS. He deducted the entire cost of the uniform. IRS didnt bat an eye at it. 

The pants and sock IMO are not suitable for everyday wear as they have the BSA logo on them. I also need them neat and tidy so everyday wear would wear them out. 

I think it all depends on the situation one is in. 

You could really argue that the shirt is an every day wear item. Ive seen people dress in weird everyday ways. Stuff I wouldnt wear everyday. 

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It's my understanding you can also deduct the cost of uniforms and parts that are unique to BSA and generally cannot be worn for other purposes. For example, if your troop is "full uniform", you can deduct the cost of the full uniform.  

 

 I would be cautious about this whole issue of the clothing.  There are a lot of specifics that probably not allow for such deductions.  Clergy for example can deduct the liturgical robes and such worn during the performance of his duties in a worship service, but he cannot take a deduction for a black suit and clergy shirt that is worn in the general public.

 

If that logic holds true, a scouter may be able to deduct O/A regalia if purchased, but not his full BSA uniform which can be worn in public.  Need to check the fine points on that issue very carefully.

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I just learned this a few weeks ago from my SM specific teacher at U of Scouting.  I too wish I would have l=known it years ago.

 

I had a tax question come up the other day in my research for our troop bank account.  Some sources say that the troop should use the tax id of the CO (church)

But other things I read said taht we might want to get our own TID with the CO listed as the responsible party.

Told by CPA that then we would have to file a tax form.

Is that true?

and would there be benefit to getting our own number?

 

For informational trivia purposes only, of course....

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One of my previous SM was audited by the IRS. He deducted the entire cost of the uniform. IRS didnt bat an eye at it. 

 

 

The pants and sock IMO are not suitable for everyday wear as they have the BSA logo on them. I also need them neat and tidy so everyday wear would wear them out. 

 

I think it all depends on the situation one is in. 

 

You could really argue that the shirt is an every day wear item. Ive seen people dress in weird everyday ways. Stuff I wouldnt wear everyday. 

 

 

 I would be cautious about this whole issue of the clothing.  There are a lot of specifics that probably not allow for such deductions.  Clergy for example can deduct the liturgical robes and such worn during the performance of his duties in a worship service, but he cannot take a deduction for a black suit and clergy shirt that is worn in the general public.

 

If that logic holds true, a scouter may be able to deduct O/A regalia if purchased, but not his full BSA uniform which can be worn in public.  Need to check the fine points on that issue very carefully.

 

 

Clothing is a judgment call.  I think the uniform shirt is clear -- most people wouldn't consider it suitable to wear at events other then scouting activities.  In fact, the use of the uniform outside of appropriate scout events or by non-scouts/scouters is prohibited -- http://www.scoutinsignia.com/celebs.htmI

 

I do wear the non-cotton switchbacks with the built-in belt for hiking and camping when I"m not with the scouts.  The probably are the best non-cotton switchbacks around because they don't fall down if you put stuff in your pockets.  With the exception of the plastic belt buckle, the pants are like any ohter pair of pants.  So for me, those are suitable for use outside of scouting.  Other than the BSA logo, the socks are like any other pair of socks and are suitable for use outside of scouting.  Again, just my opinion.  

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I just learned this a few weeks ago from my SM specific teacher at U of Scouting.  I too wish I would have l=known it years ago.

 

I had a tax question come up the other day in my research for our troop bank account.  Some sources say that the troop should use the tax id of the CO (church)

But other things I read said taht we might want to get our own TID with the CO listed as the responsible party.

Told by CPA that then we would have to file a tax form.

Is that true?

and would there be benefit to getting our own number?

 

For informational trivia purposes only, of course....

 

Use the CO's tax ID.  Make your life easy, you don't want to be filing a tax return for the Troop.  The less time you spend on paperwork, the more time you spend outdoors.

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I have always done my own taxes and use the "reasonable man" approach to deductions.  I don't cheat (a Scout is Trustworthy), but if I think it's a legitimate expense (e.g. official uniform pants that I don't wear anywhere else) I will take the deduction and keep receipts (from the Scout shop).  IF I get audited and the deduction is disallowed, I will pay the additional couple of bucks in taxes.  So far, so good.  Naturally, if I am buying patches to add to my collection, or buying camping equipment for my own personal use, I don't try to deduct that.  It's not "necessary" to my being a Scouter.

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 I would be cautious about this whole issue of the clothing.  There are a lot of specifics that probably not allow for such deductions.  Clergy for example can deduct the liturgical robes and such worn during the performance of his duties in a worship service, but he cannot take a deduction for a black suit and clergy shirt that is worn in the general public.

 

If that logic holds true, a scouter may be able to deduct O/A regalia if purchased, but not his full BSA uniform which can be worn in public.  Need to check the fine points on that issue very carefully.

 

 

Yes, it's the same logic for work uniforms. If you wear a suit and tie to work, you can't deduct the cost because it can be used elsewhere. If you wear a uniform like a UPS driver or a chef jacket, that would be deductible. I usually figure the deduction isn't worth as far as clothing is concerned. Mileage, on the other hand, can really add up.

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Our troop doesn't pay registration costs for the adults to register as leaders. Is that deductible too?

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