The U.S. Tax Court recently ruled in Van Dusen v. Commissioner that an animal-rescue volunteer may take a tax deduction for unreimbursed expenses incurred while providing foster care to feral cats. The volunteer was working with a Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose mission is to trap stray cats, neuter them, and care for them until the cats are adopted or released back into the wild.
The Tax Court rejected the IRS' position that the taxpayer's expenses should be categorized as nondeductible personal expenses, and instead allowed the taxpayer to take a charitable deduction for many of her unreimbursed expenses under Tax Code Section 170 because the expenses were incurred in connection with helping a charity further its mission.
This was the first case to address such expenses, and should provide support for volunteers of charitable groups to deduct unreimbursed expenses that advance their charities' missions. .