We loaned our car to a missionary home. Can we deduct the mileage?

November 05, 2014 by Dave Du Val, EA
Hands holding a heart

Hey Dave,

We loaned our car to a missionary home for a visit and fundraising. Can we deduct the mileage as a charitable contribution? We do support him with money donations throughout the year. He usually puts 3,000+ miles on the car in the 2-3 weeks he's here criss-crossing the state to speaking engagements and events.

Stephanie

 

Stephanie,

If this expense were audited, we think it would not be allowed. There would be two concerns, the largest of which is that a charitable deduction for the use of property is not allowed. For example, if you were to donate the use of a vacation home, you could deduct the utilities used during that period if you paid the utilities, but you could not deduct the value of the rents not received as your donation. For charitable miles and car use, the person incurring the mileage can take a mileage deduction (as the owner of the vehicle) or actual expenses, such as for gas. But you are not the person incurring the mileage in this instance, and the wear and tear on your vehicle is not deductible. Another concern is that these appear to be donations to a specific individual, and donations to individuals are not deductible. Only donations to qualified organizations, such as your church, temple, mosque, or synagogue can be deducted.

If you want to be able to claim a tax deduction for your contributions, you would want to send your donation to the church or charitable organization, which could then send it along to the missionary. The church board needs to vote to support the missionary and record this in their minutes. This way, you would receive the proper acknowledgement letters confirming your contribution.

So, while we appreciate your giving spirit, a deduction for the use of your car would not appear to be a qualified deduction.

Deductibly Yours,

Dave
 

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