6 things about charitable contributions you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

It is nearing the end of the year.  In our world that mean that you need to finish making your last tax moves to save some taxes on your 2015 tax return.  One of those moves is to do your last bit of charitable giving.  When you are doing this, keep these things in mind:

  1. Make sure that you are giving to qualified charities.  This means that they need to have obtained or applied for not-for-profit status with the IRS.  The IRS has a website which you can use to research whether a charity is legitimate.  Go to IRS Organizations Select Check to check out any charity.
  2. Make sure you get some kind of receipt or make one for yourself for cash donations when you make the donation.  If you don’t have some kind of documentation, the IRS will not allow you to deduct it.  This means, don’t just put cash in the collection plate.  Put the cash in an envelope with your name so the church or synagogue can track it.  It is ok.  God will let you take credit for it.  It is not considered prideful or boastful to do this.
  3. If you give non-cash charitable items, make sure that they in a good-used condition.  If it is junk or trash, you cannot take credit for donating it to a non-profit organization (nor do I think they appreciate it).
  4. If you donate $250 or more (cash, check or property), you must receive a written acknowledgement letter from the charity in order to properly deduct this contribution.
  5. If you make donations before year end, make sure you date your check and give it to the charity before 12/31.  You cannot write it 12/31 and give it to them 1/5 and still have it count.  You can also charge it on a credit card before year end and take the deduction for the entire amount (even though you may not pay it off for a few months).  We don’t recommend this method as the contribution will actually cost you more if you don’t pay off the balance and you cannot deduct the interest.
  6. If you donate a car or a non-cash property item over $5,000, you will need to get an appraisal done on that item or car in order to take the donation at the fair market value.

If you have any questions on these, feel free to contact our office at (321) 684-7800 or via email or through our contact us page.