Tax Breaks for Weekend Warriors-Can You Take a Deduction on Charitable Race Entry Fees?

Before kids, weekends were all about me. Saturday mornings I would trade in my businessss suit and heels for running shorts and sneakers and hit White Rock Lake for a 10 mile run or a 20 mile bike ride.

Now I spend my weekends watching my kids exercise. Soccer games, swim meets, basketball games, dance recitals, and cross country meets fill my time on the weekend. And for every weekend game add to my schedule watching one or two practices during the week. Yes, I spend a heck of a lot of time watching my kids fulfill their athletic dreams. Which is really funny considering none of them are particularly athletic (but they do try).

Last year, I got fed up sitting on the sidelines and decided to join my kids. No, I’m not the coach (no patience and I don’t know the rules). I took my running back up a notch and started entering local races. 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, and hopefully a marathon by the end of 2018. I’ve even come in second twice in 5K races (in the 40-something-slow-mom-squeezing-into-Lululemon category).

It’s also a great excuse to get a kid-free Saturday morning and let my husband handle getting the kids to their various games. And a lot of these races include a post race drink. A real drink, like a craft beer or a glass of champagne. And enough yummy snacks to count as a meal.

I’m not the only mom who has figured this out—these races are full of moms.

All of these local races have a charitable component. In the last few months, I have ran races raising money for the North Texas Food Bank (Dash Down Greenville 5K), West Dallas non-profits (Trinity River Levee Run 10K), Make a Wish (Hot Chocolate 15K), and the Dallas Arboretum (Tour de Fleurs Quarter Marathon). This is pretty common in the running world.

With tax season upon us, the obvious questions is…can you deduct your race entry fee?

The answer is…probably not.

Your race entry fee covers the cost of your participation in the race (including your chip, shirt, costs of closing down the streets and police security, the expo, and post race snacks and entertainment). The part of the entry fee that covers your participation costs are not deductible because the rule is that a donation cannot be a quid pro quo for services or goods.

But what about the part of entry fee that goes to the designated charity? Good luck trying to figure that out. I’ve done enough of these races to know that information is not going to be disclosed either on the website or by the organizers of the race (if they even know that information). The designated charity is probably relying more on the free publicity and people giving extra money on top of the entry fee (which is deductible) than their share of the entry fees.

If you don’t have evidence to prove a deduction, you shouldn’t be claiming it on your taxes.

Tax deduction or not, Saturday morning races are a great excuse to get some exercise, a free drink and snacks, and most importantly, time away from your kids.

Are you a weekend warrior? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Tax Breaks for Weekend Warriors-Can You Take a Deduction on Charitable Race Entry Fees?

  1. Love seeing all the photos of you, Chris and the Kratogirls on Facebook. I run every day so I guess this includes weekends. Not much of a race runner as I love running the streets with our dog, Gracie, who has run over 800 days with me. Be well Queen of the Kratogirls.

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