Deducting the Class Snake

Today TaxMama hears from Susan in the TaxQuips Forum with a fun case. “Assuming that I won’t make my son pay for it out of his allowance, for volunteering me to take care of the class snake for the summer… Can I deduct the cost of the frozen rats it eats? And what about if it escapes and I have to buy a replacement?”

Dear Susan,

Kris Hix our TaxLady in Kentucky  tells Susan, “You are a better mom than I will ever be.”

Kris says you are able to deduct the reptile’s food and God Forbid, ich, the replacement.

It will go onto your Schedule A,non cash items to your son’s school.  I would do the down and dirty and put the dollar value of the cash to your son’s school under cash contributions.

Kris adds, that what ever else you may contribute to the school for the different drives that are done, the bags, the wipes, tissues, etc.
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, are all deductible.  Keep your receipts and yes, you may deduct those items under non-cash charitable deductions.

TaxMama suggests a good Tax Court case to read, Jan Elizabeth Van Dusen v IRS. The woman vas a volunteer for an exempt org helping feral cats. The Tax Court upheld her right to deduct her costs for expenses under 0 – and a variety of other expenses – and the concept.

What they did not accept is the deduction for the costs of $250 or more. Why? She did not have contemporaneous receipts from the charity.


Keep detailed records and receipts for all the costs expended. Arrange with the school that, when school resumes, they give you a receipt for all your out-of-pocket expenses.  In fact, if you can, teach your son to keep a log of the reptile’s costs, and perhaps, its condition, throughout the summer. Who knows, he might even start writing stories about his adventures with the snake.
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It could be a fun learning experience on several levels.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about deducting volunteer expenses and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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