Take a Bite out of Your Taxes

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I read an interesting article the other day about this year’s Dirty Dozen tax scams. My favorite: arguing that incomes taxes are unconstitutional and that, therefore, you don’t owe Uncle Sam a dime. (Try this one, the IRS says, and you could pay an accuracy-related penalty, a civil-fraud penalty, an erroneous-refund-claim penalty, a failure-to-file penalty, and a penalty for making a frivolous argument in court. Oh yes, and the amount of taxes you owed in the first place.)

Well, here’s a tax strategy that’s not a scam: Many of the expenses you incur as a Scouting volunteer may be tax deductible. The main stipulations are that the expenses must be:

  • Unreimbursed,
  • Directly connected with the service you gave,
  • Only incurred because of the service you gave, and
  • Not personal, living, or family expenses

IRS publication 526 offers more detail and several examples. Among those most related to Scouting:

  • You can deduct the cost and upkeep of uniforms that are not suitable for every­day use and that you must wear while performing donated services for a charitable organization.”
  • 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.” (The publication goes on to say that it’s okay to have fun, so long as “you are on duty in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip.”)

See publication 526 for more details. And be sure to talk with your tax advisor. After all, you don’t want your tax strategy to make next year’s Dirty Dozen list!


Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.

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