Volunteer Travel Expense

While a ministry can theoretically reimburse a volunteer’s actual vehicle expenses, it is generally impractical due to the complexity of calculating and allocating the appropriate amount of depreciation. Most ministries use the simpler standard mileage rate. If vehicle expenses are not reimbursed, board members or other volunteers who itemize their deductions can claim a charitable mileage deduction at the standard charitable mileage rate.

Tax law does not specifically address whether board members are eligible for mileage reimbursement at the standard charitable or business mileage rate. However, in a letter from the Associate Chief Counsel, the IRS acknowledged the appropriateness of using the business mileage rate to reimburse bona fide volunteers under 1.132-5(r)(1) of the Income Tax Regulations. 1

If mileage is reimbursed by the ministry using either rate, it should be based on adequate documentation (time, contemporaneous mileage records and the purpose of the trip related to the ministry). As volunteers, board members are generally considered to be ineligible for travel reimbursement based on the per diem method. 2

1 INFO 2000-0236

2 Revenue Ruling 67-30



This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.