If you have expenses related to coaching youth sports, you may be eligible for tax deductions. If you get paid (even a small amount), you may also need to pay taxes.
Types of Coaches
What type of coach you are affects your tax situation. There are differences between volunteers, independent contractors, and employees.
Volunteer coaches are coaches that don’t get paid at all. You might volunteer because your own kids are involved or just to support the local community.
If you’re not getting paid, you obviously have no income to report. If your organization wants to reimburse your expenses, there are two main paths you can take.
- Have them reimburse specific expenses rather than providing a general stipend. You should generally give them receipts (and keep copies for yourself). They should have a documented reimbursement policy. This makes it clear that any payments are for expenses not for services you’re performing.
- Be treated as a hobby. The downside to this option is that you will have to claim the reimbursements as hobby income but won’t be able to deduct any expenses. This choice is usually for when your organization does pay a small amount but it’s not your main job so you spend everything they pay you. See more on hobbies below.
Can volunteer youth sports coaches deduct expenses?
In order to deduct expenses, you generally need to be coaching for a qualifying 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Most established youth sports leagues and clubs have this designation.
Some smaller organizations that operate like non-profits haven’t gone through the IRS process, and you wouldn’t be eligible to deduct expenses. Some for-profit leagues also use volunteer coaches, and you also can’t deduct expenses in those leagues.
Your expenses are considered contributions to the 501(c)(3) organization, so that’s why your organization has to be a qualifying non-profit for you to be able to deduct expenses.
If you receive benefits, such as discounted registration fees for coaching, you need to take those into account. For example, if you have $500 in expenses and your child’s $150 registration fee is waived, you can’t deduct the full $500. The first $150 counts as payment toward the registration fee, and the remaining $350 is a contribution to the organization.