Keeping track of the year’s deductibles

Our first year with Cub Scouts the Den Master admonished us, “keep track of when and where you help out, and what you buy for the Scouts. The expenses and mileage add up for non-profit deductions.”

That good advice from the early 1970s is still good advice. Of course, we ignore it and trust our memories and monthly credit card receipts.

Last week hubby began compiling information to figure our non-profit mileage for tax deductions. Pulling out a calendar, my tax man began marking travel dates when we could not report for our volunteer activities.

I heard him muttering and flipping through the monthly statements from three separate charge accounts.

“What were we doing in Florida in March?” he asked.

“Using up timeshare points, visiting Little Free Libraries and driving to an airport to fly to Puerto Rico,” I said. “Was that in March? That’s earlier in the year than I remembered. No wonder it was cold and rainy on the beach.”

“It was March. After that I went a couple times to work at church camp. Here are the charges for gas in Malvern,” he said and scribbled a note on the calendar.

He did not have to ask me about the June gas charges in Utah. He will always remember the day he finally reached Dinosaur National Park and checked it off his bucket list. The only list I could check off was that I missed teaching Sunday School a couple weeks in June and July.

“We went to the funeral and then went on to New York in October, so we were not in church for Awana, right?” He asked me that at least three times as he held his pencil over the calendar.

Three times, I reminded him, “No, dear, we went to Indiana for the funeral in November. In October we gathered up Christian literature in Michigan and New York before taking them to Love Packages in Butler, Ill. to ship to third world countries that use English. On that trip we missed a couple Wednesday nights and Sundays. I think, we only missed Awana and Sunday School for the funeral.”

“What is this hotel night just a few miles north of my brother?” he asked.

“Oh, that was the night we thought we would put in an hour or so of driving into Michigan. Then it rained so hard you could not see where you were driving and you were suddenly very tired. We took the first hotel we could find, fell into bed and got up early the next day instead.”

“What were we doing at Office Depot in Little Rock in the middle of the week? And at a pizza place?” he asked.

We both thought a bit before I recalled, “That’s when we went to babysit grandkids while their parents went to a seminar. The kids had saved all their fast food prizes and discounts to use with us. They had fun and we had no fuss meals.” He checked off another time we missed Awana.

For days he tracked our travels and the times we missed church with our gas and food purchases: Florida and Puerto Rico in March; Utah, Colorado and Arizona in June; Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania in October, and finally St. Louis and Branson in December.

“We traveled a lot last year,” he said ending the interrogation and stacking the receipts. Yes, we did. Having endured those hours of interrogation, the Den Master’s notebook sounds much easier. This year I aim to earn the “Organized Tax Receipts” badge.