Travel SOS: Can I claim ‘voluntourism’ costs?

John wonders if he can reduce his taxes by claiming deductions for volunteering.

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.

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    COMMENTS

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    Charlie
    10th Feb 2018
    8:49am
    How about replacing the so called (annual free rail trip for age pensioners) to a free air fare.

    The way families are spread apart these days, its not practical for people with medical devices to spend two days on the train. Most of the time the first $50 has to be paid anyway.
    FrankC
    10th Feb 2018
    12:18pm
    I wasn't aware that pensioners had one free rail trip annually. Is this for a certain state, or is it a federal concession ?
    Anonymous
    10th Feb 2018
    3:56pm
    I live in Victoria Frank and although I am not a pensioner I receive a seniors card as I am over 60 years of age and the seniors card entitles me to one free trip on a train a year. This is allowed by the State Government.

    11th Feb 2018
    5:57pm
    Is there some way to structure the costs of doing volunteer work so that they can be claimed as a charity donation? For example, if you are working for a charity, maybe you could donate the cost of your travel etc. and have them use the donation to pay your expenses?


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