Deducting the Civil War

Today TaxMama hears from Jimmy in McAlester, Oklahoma, who tells us “I began doing War Between the States re-enactments last year. Several people told me, to keep my receipts because uniforms, travel, equipment, and etc. were tax deductible. I have looked for something that allows this deduction and cannot find anything. if I were a schoolteacher I could see it but I am not. Is there a legal deduction for this and if so where? “

Hi Jim,

That’s very interesting. And sounds like great fun! But unless you have a business purpose, I don’t see how that would qualify as deductible.

Hmmm…Could it possibly be a charitable contribution? Maybe.

Is your entity a non-profit organization? Does it raise money by having people pay to see these re-enactments? And you are donating your time and the cost of your uniforms to help them raise money.

Or is it an educational organization? And your time and expenses contribute to educating the public. These could be two rationales. If the expenses are deductible for charity, the group already has some case history on record with IRS or the Tax Court or they have a tax ruling.

Here is an organization involved with re-enactments, The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc,

Here is the letter from their attorney about their tax-exempt status:

That does not necessarily mean your expenses are deductible. Do some more digging with your own organization and see if the officers have some definitive information for you. I can bet you’re not the first person to bring this issue up. This is not a cheap avocation.

But, I’d shoot for a way to establish a basis for the charitable contribution.

On the other hand, I just noticed that your e-mail address is from the military. Is there any way that this can be an educational expense (learning about the history of the battles, etc.) that can relate to your present position – or improve your job skills?
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That’s another direction to go. Then, you’d deduct it as an employee business expense.

And, remember, you’ll find answers to questions about tax deductions and all kinds of tax issues, free.
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