Volunteer with pets? You could get a tax break

A new ruling could save volunteers some hard-earned cash. A California woman who fosters cats for a rescue group went to tax court when the IRS wouldn’t let her deduct the expenses she’d racked up caring for the cats — and the judge ruled in her favor. (Read the Wall Street Journal article about the case.)


Velveeta is an adoptable tabby mix at Fix Our Ferals in Berkeley, CA.

Jan Van Dusen, who fosters cats for Berkeley, CA-based Fix Our Ferals, had tried to write off $12,068 she’d spent on cat food, veterinary care, litter, paper towels and other items. Early this month, U.S. Tax Court judge Richard Morrison ruled in her favor.

This is great news for pet foster parents everywhere. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The decision … paves the way for volunteers of animal-rescue groups like the ASPCA and Humane Society of the U.S. to
deduct unreimbursed expenses
that further the groups’ missions, such as fostering stray animals.

But there are three very important criteria you must meet if you want to write off your expenses:

  1. The organization you volunteer with must have 501(c)3 status.
  2. You must be able to show that your contribution furthers the group’s mission.
  3. You need a letter from the group acknowledging your donations if they are worth more than $250 (less than $250 and receipts or canceled checks should be enough).

Tell us: What charitable expenses do you write off?

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Article: Comparison of 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) Organizations

Article: Eight Reasons You Can Foster a Pet, Even if You Think You Can’t

Video: Volunteering with Shelter Cats

More on this story:

The Wall Street Journal: Stray Cat Strut: Woman Beats IRS

The Wall Street Journal: One Easy Way to Lose That Charitable Deduction

United States Tax Court: Jan Elizabeth Van Dusen v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue