Mileage Tracking

Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement: An In-Depth Guide

Natasa Djalovic
Last update on:
April 10, 2024 1:18 PM
Published on:

At the heart of nonprofit operations lies the commitment to utilize resources effectively while supporting those who dedicate their time and energy to the organization’s mission—volunteers and employees.

One way to provide support to volunteers and employees is by managing mileage reimbursement. When individuals are compensated for using their personal vehicles for organizational activities, they are more likely to continue to serve with organizations that recognize and value their contributions.

This guide provides a closer look into the policies, practices, and IRS guidelines surrounding nonprofit mileage reimbursement, aiming to provide nonprofits with the knowledge to manage this process efficiently.

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What is Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement?

Nonprofit mileage reimbursement is the compensation provided to a volunteer or an employee when expenses are incurred while using their personal vehicle for organizational purposes. 

This compensation is crucial for nonprofits to continue to attract and retain volunteers by offsetting travel expenses.

IRS Guidelines for Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) establishes specific guidelines for mileage reimbursement, setting rates that nonprofits can use to reimburse employees and volunteers without incurring additional taxes.

Standard mileage rates for business travel are adjusted annually to reflect the fluctuating costs associated with operating a vehicle, including, but not limited to, gas prices, wear and tear, and insurance expenses. For 2024, the business mileage rate is 67 cents per mile.

The charitable mileage rate, set by Congress, remains unchanged at 14 cents since 1998.

These figures are pivotal for nonprofits, as adhering to them allows organizations to reimburse their staff and volunteers without inadvertently transforming these payments into taxable income.

By aligning their reimbursement policies with IRS standards, nonprofits uphold their commitment to fiscal responsibility and reinforce their dedication to the individuals who drive their mission forward.

Implementing an Accountable Plan

The Internal Revenue Service mandates that reimbursements for travel and other business expenses occur under an "accountable plan" to ensure these payments are not classified as taxable wages. 

This is a crucial consideration for nonprofits aiming to manage their finances effectively while respecting the tax code. 

An accountable plan, as defined by IRS Publication 463, must satisfy three main criteria:

  • Business Connection. Expenses reimbursed must serve a bona fide nonprofit business purpose.
  • Timely Accounting. Reimbursed parties must account for their expenses within a reasonable timeframe, generally 60 days.
  • Return of Excess. Any excess reimbursement must be returned within a reasonable period, often within 120 days.

To meet these requirements, taxpayers seeking reimbursement should be prepared to provide detailed receipts that include the date, vendor, and nature of the purchase, along with an expense report that documents the business purpose of the expenditure, the mileage driven, and other pertinent details of the trip.

For more details on IRS requirements, check out our detailed Guide to Employee Mileage Reimbursement.

What About Mileage Reimbursement for Volunteers?

Nonprofits often rely on the generosity and dedication of volunteers. Many volunteers travel significant distances to support the organization's mission, and reimbursing them for their travel expenses is a tangible way to show appreciation and support. 

Under current IRS regulations, nonprofits can reimburse charitable mileage at the rate of 14 cents per mile.

Volunteers should keep records of their expenses or mileage reports for tax auditing purposes.

PRO TIP: The charitable mileage rate is a deductible expense for volunteers on their tax returns. However, if a nonprofit reimburses volunteers for mileage at a higher rate, any excess amount may be subject to income taxes. Volunteers and nonprofits should adhere to IRS guidelines when handling mileage tax deductions to ensure compliance and avoid double-dipping.

Best Practices for Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement

timeero route replay
Mileage tracking apps, like Timeero, can help you streamline nonprofit mileage reimbursement.

Besides adhering to the latest IRS nonprofit mileage reimbursement rates and implementing an accountable plan, other best practices for nonprofit mileage reimbursement include:

  • Develop Clear Policies. Establish comprehensive travel reimbursement policies that communicate eligibility, documentation requirements, and the reimbursement process.
  • Leverage Technology. Utilize software solutions to automate mileage tracking and reimbursement, improving accuracy and efficiency.
  • Educate Your Team. Ensure that employees and volunteers understand the mileage reimbursement process, including how to track and report their mileage.

We will discuss these best practices below.

1. Implementing a Mileage Reimbursement Policy

Nonprofit mileage reimbursement is more than a financial transaction; it reflects the organization's appreciation for its staff and volunteers. In certain states, such as California, reimbursing employees for business travel expenses is legally required.

By establishing a fair, transparent, and IRS-compliant mileage reimbursement policy, nonprofits can ensure they continue to attract and support the individuals who help drive their mission forward.

This policy should outline eligibility for reimbursement, documentation requirements, and the process for submitting and approving reimbursement requests. If you’ll also be reimbursing electric cars for business miles, you should address the process in your policy. 

Maintaining accurate records is crucial for both nonprofits and volunteers. Documentation should include dates, mileage, purposes of the trips, and any other expenses incurred. This supports the reimbursement process and aids in financial management and IRS compliance.

Clarity in the policy prevents misunderstandings and ensures equitable treatment for all employees and volunteers.

2. Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

One of the significant challenges nonprofits face in mileage reimbursement is tracking and processing the reimbursements accurately and efficiently. 

Automating the process with specialized mileage tracking software can save time, reduce errors, and improve compliance.

Optimizing Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement with Timeero

Timeero's advanced mileage tracking feature is available as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The app automates the tracking and reimbursement process.

Automated Mileage Tracking for Precise Reimbursement

timeero mobile mileage tracking
Mileage tracking on Timeero.

Mileage tracking is an important part of maintaining compliance with IRS tax regulations and ensures accurate reimbursement to staff and volunteers. 

By automatically recording mileage during work hours, Timeero eliminates the need for manual tracking, reducing errors and streamlining the reimbursement process.

timeero mileage reporting
Generate mileage reports easily.

The app's GPS technology ensures that every mile is accurately logged, providing a reliable basis for reimbursement calculations.

Furthermore, features like "Shortest Distance" and "Suggested Mileage" help nonprofits manage transportation costs effectively by comparing actual mileage with optimal routes, ensuring that reimbursements are fair and cost-efficient.

timeero suggested route
Timeero’s Suggested Route feature.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency with Comprehensive Features

Beyond mileage tracking, Timeero's suite of tools offers comprehensive support for the varied needs of nonprofit organizations:

GPS Time Tracking Software. The transition from traditional to digital timekeeping allows for effortless tracking of time, breaks, and routes, enhancing payroll accuracy and field operation accountability.

Customizable Overtime and Break Rules. Adapt to specific state labor laws for overtime and breaks, ensuring legal compliance and fair compensation.

Historical and Real-Time GPS Tracking. Gain insights into staff locations during shifts, improving safety and coordination of field activities.

Segmented Tracking. Simplify the clock-in process while capturing detailed location data, offering insights into time spent on travel versus on-site activities.

Job Management and Employee Scheduling. Streamline task allocation and manage mobile teams efficiently, enhancing project execution and staff engagement.

Reporting and System Integration. Generate customizable reports for internal analysis and donor reporting while integrating with accounting and payroll systems to automate key financial processes.

Prioritizing Compliance and Accountability

Timeero's features are designed to ensure operational efficiency and compliance with relevant laws and regulations. 

The signature verification feature adds an extra layer of accountability, allowing for the physical sign-off of timesheets and work data, such as regular and overtime hours, mileage, and breaks. 

Adhering to compliance standards is essential for nonprofits to maintain transparency and uphold their fiduciary responsibilities.

To learn more about how this mileage-tracking app can help your nonprofit organization, read our comprehensive Timeero review.

3. Educating Your Team on Mileage Reimbursement

The effectiveness of mileage reimbursement policies hinges on the thorough education of staff and volunteers.

Ensuring that everyone involved understands the nuances of these policies is vital for maintaining transparency, efficiency, and IRS compliance. 

To achieve this, nonprofits should focus on comprehensive training sessions that cover the following key points:

  • Understanding IRS Guidelines. Educate about the IRS's standard mileage rates and the difference between business and charitable mileage, emphasizing what each rate covers and the importance of adhering to these rates for tax purposes.

  • Navigating the Reimbursement Process. Clarify the steps for tracking and reporting mileage, from the initial journey to the submission of claims, highlighting the role of technology in simplifying this process.

  • Using Technology like Timeero. Train your staff to use mileage tracking tools like Timeero to automate mileage tracking and reimbursement. When onboarding your staff, Timeero’s customer support team can help you transition.

  • Accountable Plan Compliance. Discuss the importance of an accountable plan as per IRS Publication 463, outlining the requirements for a business connection, timely accounting, and the return of excess reimbursements.

Following the nonprofit mileage reimbursement best practices,  nonprofits can foster an environment where mileage reimbursement processes are transparent, equitable, and aligned with organizational goals. Leveraging top technology solutions, such as Timeero, will ensure accurate and timely reimbursement while keeping your organization compliant with IRS regulations and other relevant laws.

Disclaimer: This article offers a general overview of nonprofit mileage reimbursement and is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered exhaustive or as a substitute for professional advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a certified tax professional or financial advisor to obtain guidance tailored to your specific situation. This ensures that you fully comply with all current laws and regulations applicable to your unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions: Nonprofit Mileage Reimbursement

Can a Nonprofit Reimburse for Mileage?

Yes, nonprofits can and often do reimburse their staff and volunteers for mileage. However, this process must be carefully managed to ensure it meets IRS regulations and that reimbursements are not considered taxable income for the volunteer.

Can a Nonprofit Deduct Mileage On Tax Returns?

Unlike businesses, nonprofits do not benefit directly from mileage deductions as other business entities. However, properly accounting for mileage reimbursement can impact the organization's financial reporting and budgeting. For volunteers, the ability to deduct unreimbursed mileage as charitable contributions was subject to changes in tax law, so current IRS publications should be consulted.

What Is the Travel Reimbursement Policy for Nonprofits?

A clear and comprehensive travel reimbursement policy is crucial for nonprofit organizations. This policy should outline eligibility, rates, documentation requirements, and the reimbursement process. It ensures transparency and fairness and helps prevent misunderstandings.

How Do Nonprofits Calculate Mileage Reimbursement for Volunteers? 

Mileage reimbursement amounts are found by multiplying the IRS standard mileage rate by the miles traveled for nonprofit purposes.

Simplify your mileage reimburement with Timeero.

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Natasa Djalovic

Natasa is a writer specializing in the IT and software industry with 6+ years of experience in content writing and online marketing. During that period, she wrote more than 1,000 articles and several ebooks. She majored in English language and literature and loves cats, sneakers, and candy. When she's not working, she's probably binge-watching Netflix.

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