Are My Donated Notary Services Tax Deductible?

If you are offering notarial services free of charge to certain segments of your constituency, this simply means you are not charging the notarial fees (or any additional travel fees) for the notarial tasks you perform.

This does not mean that you do not still incur the everyday costs of offering your services. If you are traveling to and from the clients you are serving on a voluntary (non-paid) basis, you will still incur travel expenses, such as gas, oil, tolls, and parking. You will still use pen and ink, notary stamps and seals, and, perhaps, other office supplies depending on the notarial act you are executing. For instance, you may be required to use your loose certificates for documents that may not have been properly prepared for notarization. Notaries need to know how to handle these items at tax time and understand which things provide a tax deduction - and which things do not.

Notaries are not permitted to deduct the value of their time and services when offering notarial services on a pro bono basis. For example: you have committed to spend two hours at your son or daughter's high school notarizing permission slips for parents of students who will be going away on an overnight, out-of-state trip. Each permission slip requires the execution of a jurat notary certificate. In all, during the two-hour period, you notarize 68 permission slips for the parents of two classes of high school juniors. Let's suppose that, for the execution of a jurat, the statutory fee is $5.00 in your state. You are not permitted to deduct $340.00 for your uncharged services, nor can you deduct $10 or $12 per hour to compensate for your time.

According to the Internal Revenue Service tax code, payers cannot place a value on their time and services for charitable deductions. See IRS Publication 526 for rules governing Charitable Deductions and Contributions. The notary can, however, deduct for travel to and from the high school. For travel expenses, you may deduct the actual gas and oil used to get to the location or $0.14 per mile. Parking and tolls are an additional travel deduction. The cost of any notarial or clerical tools used for the pro bono work may also be deducted; these are considered out-of-pocket expenses. It may be prudent for notaries who offer free services on a regular basis to allot designated tools for the pro bono work that are separate from their regular notary stamps and notary supplies, so that it will be easier to track the use and expense of these items. Otherwise, it may be difficult to determine the actual amounts spent.

The allowable deductions for notarial services offered free of charge are input on Form 1040 Schedule A - Itemized Deductions. This form can only be used by individuals who do not take the standard deduction when calculating their taxable income. As usual, it is necessary to keep accurate records of all of your free notarial services and the expenses you have incurred in case you are ever called to an audit by the IRS. As a notary, you should still maintain best practices when offering pro bono services - adhere to all standards of excellence in obeying statutory rules and be sure to enter each transaction in your notary record book or journal. Simply indicate that no fee was paid; all other information is relevant and should be collected.

Just a reminder; a notary is never permitted to charge a client more than what is allowed for each type of notarial act; to do so would cause the notary to incur criminal liability and administrative penalty from the state.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

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