How to Deduct Charitable Contributions

Contributing to charitable organizations means a tax deduction, provided your donation was to a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and you

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itemize your deductions on your Federal taxes.

Before donating to a charitable organization, check to ensure the organization has been designated a tax exempt 501 (c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service. The organization should be able to provide you with a copy

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of the charity’s tax exempt letter or you can check the

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IRS Publication 78 or call the IRS tax help phone number to determine if the organization is listed as tax exempt 501(c)(3).

Request receipts when you donate to charitable organizations and keep the receipts neatly in a file with other items that you will use to document your federal tax liability.

How to Deduct Your Charitable Contributions

  1. On a Schedule A, itemize your tax deductions.
  2. For a cash contribution, claim only up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income for the donation. For a non-cash contribution, claim only up to 30 percent; for appreciated capital gains, claim only up to 20 percent. For tax payers who have been more than generous to charitable organizations and exceed these limits, the IRS will allow you to roll over part of your contributions to the following years for up to five years.
  3. Check with the IRS for required documentation for charitable giving. Each year, they tighten the rules, and this is a way to protect yourself should you be audited.
  4. For all cash contributions, keep a canceled check, credit card statement or bank statement on any cash contributions you make. Also record the date and name of the organization. All receipts and written letters should be organized.
  5. For all items you donate, keep an organized record, including the date and description of the item, as well as its fair market value. To be on the safe side, you can snap a photo of the item to back up its condition and value. If the donation is under $250 you are not required to attach a receipt to your Schedule A, but it is a good idea. If your donation is over $250 ask for a receipt. The receipt should detail the items, whether there was any exchange of services or goods, and the estimated value of the item. If the item you donate is over $5K, you will be required to obtain a written appraisal. On donations that are over $500, taxpayers will also be required to complete an IRS Form 8283.
  6. For intangible charitable donations, like services, keep strict records of all travel mileage and expense. Details should include the name of the organization, the date, all mileage driven, where you drove, what was the purpose of the trip, and its cost. If the expenses exceed the $250, ask the organization for a letter verifying that you worked for the organization.


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