Please Note: Because tax circumstances for individuals vary, REEF does not give, and cannot assume responsibility for, tax advice to its volunteers and contributors. The following describes the documentation REEF provides to its contributors and volunteers and provides general information about some of the tax rules that govern charitable contributions. We strongly recommend that you consult your own tax advisor to determine how these general rules might apply to your own particular situation.
REEF is a public charity under Section 501(c)(3), 509 (a)(1), and 170 (b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a private foundation. As such, the entire value of cash, securities, and other properties contributed to REEF is deductible under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code. REEF’s federal identification number is 65-0270064.
All contributors must substantiate their contributions with a cancelled check or a receipt from the charity. REEF provides its contributors with a written acknowledgement for each cash contribution and a properly detailed receipt for all contributions of property. Your contributions are vital to the success of REEF’s work.
Actual and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses necessarily incurred by a volunteer in connection with the performance of gratuitous services for a charitable organization are also generally deductible for federal income tax purposes. Travel expenses are often the largest portion of such out of pocket expenses. These would include airfare, meals, and lodging expenses if you are away from home overnight.
Travel expenses are not deductible, however, unless there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in such travel. Recreation will not be the objective of your participation in a REEF Field Survey. REEF considers you to be a volunteer providing your time and services to a tax-exempt activity: scientific research. As such, you will render regular daily services to a scientific investigation. The fact that you enjoy providing these services will not cause the loss of your deduction as long as you are on duty in a general and substantial sense throughout the trip. In order to substantiate the extent of your efforts, we recommend that you maintain a log or record of all your project activities—and the time spent on each—during the course of your Field Survey. It is recommended that you print out copies of your REEF Survey Log (available on your account at REEF.org) once the Field Survey trip data are posted online. REEF will provide an invoice of funds paid for the Field Survey Trip package. You may also email trips@REEF.org to request a letter verifying your trip participation.
The value of your time and services is not deductible; nor are any personal expenses unrelated to the Field Survey. If you stop to visit friends or family, or to sightsee, on the way to or from the Field Survey location, your transportation costs must be prorated accordingly. For example, if you spend seven days on the Field Survey and a total of ten days away from home, then a total of 7/10ths of your airfare would be deductible as part of your volunteer expenses. The IRS does not expect you to work more than a five day week, so weekend days may be excluded from the calculation.
Whenever requested, REEF will also support your effort to receive academic credit for participating in a Field Survey. Be aware, however, that the IRS may not allow you to deduct your volunteer expenses under those circumstances unless you are a teacher or are improving a professional skill used in your trade or business.
Please remember to consult your tax advisor before making any decisions as to how the various rules might apply in your own situation. We appreciate your time and participation in the Field Survey and for your support of REEF. Your contributions of time, effort and funds are what make REEF’s monitoring program a success.