As the holidays approach and the end of the year draws near, the IRS has again released its list of tips for giving to charity. Of course, these rules apply to obtaining a legitimate tax-deduction for the donation. If that is not your goal, then give away and don't bother with the IRS tips. The tips are generally the same each year, and include the rules for deducting contributions of clothing and household items (the item must be in good used condition, and the value is fair market value of the item in used condition) and for deducting monetary contributions (must have a written record of the contribution, and an acknowledgement from the charity if it was $250 or more).
The list also includes reminders, such as:
- Contributions are deductible in the year made even if the charity doesn't cash the check until after the first of the year;
- The charitable deduction is an itemized deduction, meaning anyone taking a standard deduction (including filing a short form 1040A or 1040EZ) cannot take the deduction.
- A reminder that is not included on this year's list but that has been included in the past is that donations to an individual are not deductible (regardless of their need).
Finally, it is always good to confirm whether the entity you are contributing to is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations. Just because an entity is a "non-profit" or calls themselves "tax-exempt" does not mean donations are tax-deductible. Check for yourself on the IRS Select Check online database to determine if your donation can be deducted for tax purposes.