Travel SOS: Can I claim ‘voluntourism’ costs?

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In a bid to legally reduce how much tax he needs to pay, part-pensioner John was wondering if costs incurred during volunteer work can be claimed as deductions.

Q. John
Although I am on the Age Pension, I receive other income from a small investment on which I need to pay tax. I am looking at ways of legitimately reducing how much tax I pay and wondered if doing “voluntourism” qualified for deductions. Later this year I hope to do some environmental volunteer work on nature reserves in Queensland. So I am wondering if the costs I incur during my “voluntourism” stint, such as airfare and accommodation, can be claimed when I lodge my income tax return.

A. The Australian Taxation Office does not allow costs associated with volunteer work performed during a vacation to be claimed as deductions when completing tax returns.

Tax deductions must be directly related to earning assessable income. As volunteers do not earn income from their volunteering activities, any expenses or costs related to the “voluntourism” are considered private in nature and not deductible.

Similarly, reimbursements paid to a volunteer by the volunteer program or organisation to cover their costs or expenses are not considered to be assessable income and also do not need to be listed in a tax return.


Volunteering and Centrelink

If you are receiving Centrelink benefits volunteering can be a great alternative to paid work.

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Written by Olga Galacho


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