To get the ball rolling while members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants prepare answers to reader questions, here are two frequently asked questions. Answers are provided by CPAs who belong to MACPA.

Q: Can I deduct an hourly rate for time spent in charity work?

A: No. You can, though, deduct out-of-pocket expenses incurred while working for the charity, such as uniform cleaning and mileage. On your federal form you can deduct 12 cents a mile and on your state form you can take an additional 16 cents a mile on Form 502V for certain types of transportation expenses.

Q: Can I take a deduction for medical expenses incurred during the past year?

A: You may claim a deduction when qualified medical expenses exceed 7 1/2 % of your adjusted gross income. Qualified expenses include amounts paid for diagnosis, cure or prevention of disease; related transportation expenses, and cost of special equipment -- recommended by a physician -- that is necessary for your care.

The above advice is for general purposes only. Specific situations may vary.

A joint service from The Baltimore Sun and the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants can help you with your state and federal tax queries. Association members, all CPAs, will answer questions from readers until April 15.

Readers may submit questions by calling Sundial or writing or sending a fax to the Business News Department. Selected questions will be answered in The Sun and The Evening Sun. Callers are encouraged, but not required, to leave their names and phone numbers should questions need to be clarified. Questions will not be answered by phone. Names and numbers will not be published.

To ask a tax question on Sundial, call The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736, in Harford County 836-5028, and in Carroll County 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, enter 6120 after the greeting.

Written queries may be sent to TAX QUESTIONS, The Baltimore Sun, Business News Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Fax questions to the Business News Department at (410) 783-2517.

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