What's Tax-Deductible?

The good news: your time is invaluable. The bad news: the IRS thinks so, too. When tax time rolls around, don't bother trying to deduct those hours spent volunteering from your tax forms. You can't.

"This is not a gray area," admits Barbara Weltman, author of J. K. Lsser's Tax Deductions for Small Businesses. "It's better to focus on the intangible benefits that can be realized from volunteering your expertise, rather than the financial aspect."

In other words, don't look for a great tax break just because you're doing some pro-bono work. Still, there are several expenses you can write off.

Mileage: Did you drive 20 miles roundtrip to get to your non-profit destination? Take off the government-allowed rate of 14 cents per mile. (And keep a log of when and where you traveled, just in case.)

Out-of-pocket expenses: Did you purchase a pad of paper to take to your meeting? Buy film to take photographs of the dogs at the animal shelter? Save your receipts -- and tell your accountant or tax-preparer so he or she can guide you through the proper steps.