Current law allows charities to reimburse volunteers, on a nontaxable basis only, up to the charitable mileage rate of 14 cents per mile. Alternatively, volunteers are permitted to deduct their “out of pocket” expenses incurred in providing donated services — when those expenses are not reimbursed.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the authority to regulate volunteer mileage rates for business and medical/moving purposes, but not for charitable activities. The charitable rate can only be adjusted through the legislative process, and has remained unchanged since 1997.
President's budget increases mileage rate
The President's budget for fiscal year 2015, released on March 4, 2014, would set the standard mileage rate for the charitable contribution deduction equal to the rate set by the IRS for purposes of the medical and moving expense deduction. For tax year 2014, the rate for medical and moving expenses is 23.5 cents per mile. It would likewise be adjusted annually to reflect the estimated variable costs of operating a vehicle.
Legislation in the 113th Congress
In March 2013, Sen. Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced the Charitable Driving Tax Relief Act (H.R. 1212) which allows volunteers for recognized nonprofits to exempt from their taxable income any reimbursements they have received for driving a passenger vehicle as part of their volunteer work. Reimbursement is deductible up to the level of for-profit mileage reimbursement (see Background below), and can only be claimed by drivers working on a volunteer basis.
The proposed legislation is similar to previously unadopted legislation from Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), who introduced the Giving Incentives to Volunteers Everywhere (GIVE) Act in 2009, to address the inequities between the charitable rate and those for business and medical/moving purposes. The GIVE Act would have:
The IRS on December 10, 2014 announced the standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical/moving, and charitable purposes for 2015. The rates are: