IRS Offers Tips on Charity Travel

Do you plan to donate your time to charity this summer? If you travel for it, you may be able to lower your taxes. Here are some tax tips that you should know about deducting charity-related travel expenses:

  • Qualified Charities.  To deduct your costs, you must volunteer for a qualified charity. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified, and do not need to apply to the IRS. Ask the group about its status before you donate. You can also use the Select Check tool on to check a group’s status.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses.  You may be able to deduct some of your costs including travel. They must be necessary while you are away from home. All  costs must be:

o Unreimbursed,

o Directly connected with the services,

o Expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and

o Not personal, living or family expenses.

  • Genuine and Substantial Duty.  Your charity work has to be real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
  • Value of Time or Service.  You can’t deduct the value of your time or services that you give to charity. This includes income lost while you serve as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
  • Travel You Can Deduct.  The types of expenses that you may be able to deduct include: o Air, rail and bus transportation, o Car expenses, o Lodging costs, o Cost of meals, and o Taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.
  • Travel You Can’t Deduct.  Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can’t deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or  vacation.

For more on these rules, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. You can get it on at any time.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rightsand more.

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Summer Daze

Guest blog by Brittani Dockery

Brittani is a law clerk for Winters Law Firm. Among other things, she assists in the Intellectual Property Law practice with her excellent skills of searching and filing trademarks and patents. She wrote the blog below on inventions that are important for summer fun!  Ipconcerns thanks Brittani for her insightful contribution.

Summer may be coming to a close, but it is not too late to check out these patented inventions that help beat the heat and help you have fun in the warm weather.

Here are a few:

08741068  – A summertime barbecue is a great way to bring people together, and enjoy great food. However, cleanup can put a damper on the festivities. Enter the BBQ Grill Scraper, which helps clean and remove the tricky charred debris that traditional cleaning tools may miss. US patent no. 8,741,068 B2 was issued on June 3, 2014.

Who doesn’t enjoy a frozen treat on a hot day? US patent no. 1505592 (1924) makes sure you enjoy your frozen confectionery, without all of the mess and sanitary problems.

Everybody’s gone surfing. Surfing U.S.A. Now everyone can surf and wakeboard, with this invention specifically tailored to help all ages and body types enjoy the water. US patent no 08292681 was issued on October 23, 2012.

No one likes a broken board, and US patent no. 07261050 (2007) makes sure your board wont break during surfing.

Are wetsuits a hassle to get in and out of? With US patent no. 05898934 Wet suit (1999) neck opening design, getting in and out of your wetsuit is now accomplished with ease.

Sometimes the sun can be so hot that sitting outside is unbearable. With the Solar Powered Umbrella Table (US20110265694A1 ), issued in 2011, you no longer have to suffer through sweltering heat. The umbrella’s unique solar-powered design converts solar energy into AC.

Propane tanks have found a new home with US patent no. 08347874  (2013). The supportive structure is not only a tank blocker, but it also doubles as a grease pan.

Fireworks are beautiful, and are a true sign of summer fun. With US patent no. 05526750 the fun does not have to stop. A combustible shell allows for precision fireworks displays with a decreased environmental impact.

Water gun fights are a staple of many of our halcyon days. This patented invention takes water guns up a notch, by using compressed gas as a means for pressurizing water to effect a continuous stream of high velocity flow. Plus, it comes in a quirky futuristic design. US patent no. 04591071 was issued on May 27, 1986.

For many, the summer is the best season. However, as autumn and winter roll around, the fun does not have to stop. US patent no. PP7197 (1990), keeps the spirit of summer alive and well with Honeycrisp apple trees, a distinct variety of apple tree, to grow winter hardy varieties with high fruit quality. USPP7197 

As the autumnal equinox rolls around, do not forget these patented inventions in summer 2017.


Make American Great Again?

By Debby Winters

According to the USPTO website, Donald Trump filed for trademark registration of the phrase “Make America Great Again” on November 19, 2012.  Yes, that was only six days after President Obama defeated Mitt Romney to win a second term of presidency.  He has since added classes to his political action committee & fundraising , with his most recent filing on August 13, 2015.  But this came after the DJ known as Bobby Bones beat the Donald and on August 5, 2015 filed an application to register “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”   The Bones filing was for goods that Bones knew Trump would want covered in his presidential campaign.  After filing it, Bobby Bones out hustled the Donald not only in the filing, but with this tweet:  “hey @realDonaldTrump, if you donate 100k to @stjude, I will give you your clothing trademrk back. thanks!—Bobby.”  At the end of October, Trump donated the requested $100,000 to St. Jude, and shortly after Bones assigned his application to Trump.  Trump was thumped!

If you are wondering if Trump make the phrase up, well the phrase was actually coined by  Ronald Reagan, who used the phrase “Let’s Make America Great Again” as his 1980 campaign slogan. Reagan never filed for trademark protection and that phrase was filed March 29, 2016 for use on shirts by someone other than Reagan, and other than Trump.



IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2016

Owe Taxes? These Tips Can Help

The IRS offers many safe and easy ways to pay your taxes. These tips explain many of them:

  • Mailed tax bills. The IRS sends bills in the U. S. mail. Try to pay soon and in full to avoid any extra charges. If you can’t pay in full, you’ll save if you pay as much as you can. The more you can pay the less interest and penalties you will owe for late payment. The IRS offers several payment options on
  • Use IRS Direct Pay. The best way to pay your taxes is with IRS Direct Pay. It’s the safe, easy and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. You can pay your tax in just five simple steps in one online session. Just click on the “Payment” tab on You can now use Direct Pay with the IRS2Go mobile app.
  • Get a short-term payment plan. If you owe more tax than you can pay, you may qualify for more time- up to 120 days- to pay in full. You do not have to pay a user fee to set up a short-term full payment agreement. However, the IRS will charge interest and penalties until you pay in full. It’s easy to apply online at If you have questions about a bill from the IRS, you may call the phone number listed on it.
  • Apply for an installment agreement. Most people who need more time to pay can apply for an Online Payment Agreement on A direct debit payment plan is the hassle-free way to pay. The setup fee is much less than other plans and you won’t miss a payment. If you can’t apply online, or prefer to do so in writing, use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. Individuals can use Direct Pay to make their installment payments. For more about payment plan options, visit
  • Check out an offer in compromise. An offer in compromise or OIC may let you settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. An OIC may also be helpful if full payment may cause you financial hardship. Not everyone qualifies, however, so make sure you explore all other ways to pay your tax before you submit one to the IRS. Use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you qualify.
  • Avoid tax surprises. If you are an employee, you can avoid a tax bill by having more taxes withheld from your pay. To do this, file a newForm W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool on to see if you’re having the right amount withheld. If you are self-employed, you may need to make or change your estimated tax payments. SeeForm 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals to learn more.