I've spent considerable time in the last year building a portfolio for my business. This time was donated to clients, for my benefit, and theirs.

There is a large opportunity cost lost. I could work full time, hire contractors to do the work, then write off the fee for the contractors. If I started a second business with one employee (me), hired that company, I could write that off, right?

So, can I write off the opportunity loss, when I work for free?

  • 3
    The IRS will say "If it wasn't worth your time, you shouldn't have done it" ;) Jan 7, 2011 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


The short answer is no you can only deduct actual expenses.

The long answer is that it would be impossible for the IRS to determine the value of your time and it would open the tax system to an enormous amount of fraud (think of being able to make up time spent or writing off time spent volunteering at a soup kitchen or any other charity). Now you can write off expenses you have involved in doing the work, equipment and supplies used to do the work along with any wages you paid an employee or contractor to do said work.


No, you cannot write off your time. Only money or goods are eligible for donation.1 and 2

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