For my church's short-term mission trips, participants give the church money for a special fund that's used to pay their trip expenses (airfare, lodging, and so on). Some participants believe the money they spend for a trip is tax deductible and should be listed on their contribution statements. A mission organization I contacted agrees with this thinking. My understanding, though, is that only funds for a ministry and not for an individual are deductible. Who is correct?
I will defer to the guidance I offer on charitable contributions and mission trips in chapter 8 of the Church & Clergy Tax Guide. Based on your description, I believe this scenario from the guide most closely resembles your situation:
Who pays travel expenses (transportation, lodging, meals): Church
Does the church receive designated contributions from participants or others? Yes, from participants, ...