Archive for July 11th, 2008

Non-Profit Political Clout – IRS Mileage Rates

Posted on July 11, 2008. Filed under: Leadership, Non-profits |


Here’s an example of political clout (or rather the lack of it) in action:

IRS mileage allowance for businesses:
58.5 cents per mile.
IRS Mileage rate for charities:
14 cents per mile.

My personal opinion is that it should be the same for both businesses and non-profits, it’s not as if gasoline costs less for charities, and I would urge you to make that argument.

I thought this message from the VANNO, (Virginia Network of Nonprofit Organizations) sums up very well an issue that affects all US charities. Read it, and contact your US Senators and Representatives.

Bill Huddleston, CFC Expert

The effort to increase the Charitable Mileage Rate is building momentum in Congress.

The issue came up in a recent House Ways & Means Committee mark-up. On Friday, 6/20/08 Congressman Platts and Petri sent a letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Rangel requesting that they hold a hearing on H.R.2020 (Rep. Platts’ bill) and H.R.1827 (Rep. Petri’s bill). By Monday 6/23/08, the IRS announced that the Standard Business Mileage Rate will increase to 58.5 cents per mile for the second half of 2008. The Charitable Mileage Rate will remain at 14 cents.

Unlike the business rate which is variable and set by the IRS periodically, the Charitable Rate is fixed at 14 cents by § 170(i) of the Internal Revenue Code. While the business rate has steadily increased, but for a limited, Hurricane Katrina rate in 2005, the charitable rate has not increased in 10 years. With gas prices at $4.00 per gallon, it costs between 50 and 70 cents to drive a car one mile. As a result, nonprofits across the country are facing critical volunteer shortages. Raising the charitable rate, to the business rate, would grant relief to organizations who rely on volunteers that drive their personal vehicles for charitable service.

Both H.R.2020 and H.R.1827 would set the charitable mileage deduction at the same variable rate as the business rate. But there are minor differences between the bills. Both are currently in the House Ways & Means Committee. That Rep. Petri is working with Rep. Platts to request a hearing on this issue is a major step. The letter was signed by Representatives Platts [PA-19]; Boswell [IA-3]; Conaway [TX-11]; Miller [NC-13]; Putnam [FL-12]; Shays [CT-4]; Etheridge [NC-2]; Matsui [CA-5]; Shuler [NC-11]; Petri [WI-6]; Campbell [CA-48] and Foxx [NC-5]. Once Chairman Rangel respondse to the letter, we will assess our next steps. If a hearing occurs, VANNO may have an opportunity to testify. If this happens, it would be helpful to share stories from Virginia of organizations that would be directly and positively impacted by H.R. 2020.

Until then:

1. Contact your members of Congress. Action Alert Urge their support for H.R.2020. H.R.2020 would simplify the tax code, provide equity between charities and for-profits, and remove the disincentive from those Good Samaritans in our society who help the less fortunate. Additional information is posted at

2. Contact your Senators: This issue will reach the Senate. We need a Champion & a strategy. S.403 and S.3032 only raise the charitable rate to a fixed 40 cents whether permanently or temporarily. But the price of gas is not expected to return to prior levels.

Ask your members, your coworkers and your board of directors whether they volunteer or use volunteers, and whether raising the charitable reimbursement rate would help. It might be worth mentioning that volunteer board members of a 501(c)(3) can deduct mileage as volunteers if they are not otherwise reimbursed.
This may be the best chance we have had to increase the charitable rate in over 10 years.

Thank you,

Deborah Williamson
Executive Director, VANNO

Bill Huddleston
MPA in NonProfit Management –
George Mason University

Author of soon to be released:
A Hidden Treasure for Your Non-Profit
How to tap into the CFC, America’s Largest Workplace Giving Campaign

Contact the Huddleston Consulting Group at


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