Unfortunately, you can't deduct the value of your time and effort devoted to charity. But that doesn't mean your charitable deductions are limited to gifts of cash, stock or other assets.
Strategy: Cash in on deductions for your out-of-pocket expenditures, many of which you probably overlook. Here are six examples:
1. Charitable conventions. Write off the cost of attending a convention on behalf of a qualified charitable organization if you're an official delegate. That includes meals and lodging while at the convention. Of course, you can't write off expenses associated with side trips.
2. Car expenses. If you use your car for charitable purposes, you can deduct out-of-pocket costs, such as gasoline, oil and repairs. Instead of deducting actual expenses, you can use a flat-rate deduction of 14 cents per mile for charitable-related travel in 2005.
3. Uniforms. Deduct the cost of uniforms you must wear while performing charitable services, as long as the clothing isn't suitable for everyday wear. Example: Boy Scout or Girl Scout uniforms. Also write off the cost of cleaning the uniform.
4. Telephone expenses. Write off your long-distance calls made on behalf of a charity. You can also deduct the cost of installing a second line in your home for this purpose.
5. Entertainment expenses. If you host a party or dinner for fund-raising purposes, all your expenses are deductible. You'll face no 50 percent limit on entertainment and meal expenses relating to charitable functions.
6. Charitable events. If you attend an event sponsored by a charity, you can deduct the cost above the fair market value of the event. For a donation more than $75, you must obtain written documentation from the charitable organization.
Tip: Keep detailed records to back up your deductions if the IRS comes calling.