Saturday, January 12, 2008

Good for my karma and my wallet

You will come to know that there are few things I love better than a well organized spreadsheet. It's true. Sad, but true. I started one a month or two ago and just finished it up yesterday. I can say I'm pleased. It tracks my mileage driven for all three non-profits.

I have three organization with which I volunteer. One of them consume a ludicrous amount of my time and requires me to drive all over God's country. Needless to say, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed it and won't be returning next year. The other two I love and they put much less time constraint on my life. Lesson learned: time spent volunteering does not directly correlate to level of satisfaction realized.

The reason I track the mileage is that you can get a $.14 tax deduction for each mile driven in order to volunteer for a 503(c) non-profit or school. You're on the PTA and drive there for meetings outside of times during which you pick up your kid? Deduct it. You're a Boy Scout troop leader? There you go.

I have carefully logged every single meeting, mapquested each destination and plugged it all into a spreadsheet. All I have to do is print it out and give it to the tax guy. It shows the date of each item, where I drove to, for what reason, for what group and what the amount is for each item that I can deduct. My total I can deduct is about $230. Not too bad. I deserve that for the gas expense incurred.

On top of this, I get to deduct another $475 in dues paid or donations to these organizations. This will definitely help. So think back to what you may have done this year and certainly look forward for this year to see if you can reduce you tax bill by giving some of that money up. Good karma and good planning!

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