Taxation of Payments Made to Volunteers

January 23, 2012

As a volunteer worker in the Peace Corps or similar agencies, you most likely will receive certain payments in the form of allowances or reimbursements. The Internal Revenue Service has provided the following guidance as to the taxability of these payments.

Peace Corps

As a Peace Corps worker, you will receive living allowances for housing, utilities, household supplies, food, and clothing. These payments are all exempt from taxation. On the other hand, you must include as wages:

  • Allowances paid to you or to your spouse and minor children while you were training in the United States as a volunteer leader.
  • Any living allowances designated by the Director of the Peace Corps as basic compensation, including allowances for personal items such as domestic help, laundry and clothing maintenance, entertainment and recreation, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.
  • Leave allowances.
  • Readjustment allowances or termination payments.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

VISTA volunteers must include in income allowances paid for meals and lodging.

National Senior Service Corps Programs

If you work as a volunteer in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Foster Grandparent Program, or the Senior Companion Program, you are not required to include in income any amounts you may receive for supportive services or for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)

Payments from SCORE for supportive services or for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses are not taxable.

Volunteer Tax Counseling

As a volunteer tax counselor, you are not required to include any payments for transportation, meals, or other expenses received while in training or while performing tax counseling services for the elderly. In addition, you are entitled to a charitable deduction for any unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred while taking part in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

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