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Tax deduction info

It's almost January 1st, you know, time to start gathering up receipts for our tax returns.

Many CAP and Coast Guard Auxiliary members are aware that as volunteers to a charitable organization, we can deduct, on Schedule A of our personal tax returns: 

- the cost of our CAP uniforms (their purchase, alteration, cleaning, repair, and insignia); 
- the cost of travel to, and hotel rooms at, CAP meetings and conventions; 
- the cost of supplies and equipment necessary to our CAP duties (ground team equipment, web gear, pilot supplies, aeronautical charts, approach plates; note pads; lap boards, etc.); 
- all CAP-related driving and flying that is not reimbursed by CAP (e.g., to/from squadron meetings, to/from the airport, to/from the uniform shop, etc.) 
- and our annual CAP dues.

Sources:

1. "CAP-related expenses may be tax deductible", article in Civil Air Patrol News, March 1999, Page 8, by Col J. Scott Hamilton, General Counsel, CAP National Headquarters. The following are the most meaningful excerpts from the article:

The "normal" CAP expenses members can deduct as a charitable contribution on IRS form 1040 are as follows:
- dues and other financial donations to CAP;
- the cost of CAP uniforms and insignia; and
- unreimbursed overnight travel expenses away from home on a CAP activity, including hotel, motel, and meal expenses. Note: the Tax Reform Act of 1986 specifies that charitable-contribution deductions will not be allowed (for CAP and other similar organizations) for travel expenses, including hotel and meals, incurred in performance of services away from home if there is any significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation included in the travel. When members incur overnight expenses for CAP, they should keep a record which clearly indicates it was all CAP business. This is particularly important for conferences.
- Unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses for fuel, oil, maintenance, and repair may be deducted as a charitable contribution provided those expenses were incurred on authorized CAP flight activities. 
- Out-of-pocket and unreimbursed expenses incurred in member-owned aircraft proficiency flights also will be deductible, but again, keep good records to support the deduction should you be audited.
- The same IRS revenue ruling authorizes deducting out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the use of vehicles on CAP activities. The rules are the same. A member may deduct unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in the operation of vehicles on CAP activities. A member may not deduct indirect costs, such as depreciation and insurance. In lieu of the out-of-pocket expenses, a member may deduct 14 cents per mile for the use of privately owned vehicles on CAP activities, plus parking and tolls.

2. I have posted an IRS ruling at http://cap.mdickinson/irs_ruling.htm which gives information for aircraft owners on what they can and cannot deduct.

3. I also found the following information that another volunteer group (The Air Care Alliance) has posted on the web. This information is regarding expenses involved in personal flying, including rental of an airplane, meals, AE materials, film and developing, postage, and driving to and from the airport to give cadet orientation flights.

The address is http://www.aircareall.org/tax.htm and if you print it out it is about 5 pages long. For the juicy part, search down for the phrase "Page 1373" . From there to the end is an official ruling letter by an IRS employee regarding pilots who do volunteer flying for charitable organizations.

Note from the web site owner: I am not an accountant or tax professional. My suggestion is to print out the three articles cited above and give them both to your accountant for guidance.

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