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’Tis the Season: Be Charitable to Others…and Yourself

If you’re among the many people who include charitable organizations on their gift recipient lists in December, these tips from the IRS will be useful.

Many charitable donations qualify for a tax deduction for those who itemize (vs. taking the standard deduction) on their 1040. Be sure to follow the IRS rules so you enjoy the tax benefit of your gift:

  • Only gifts to qualified charities are deductible. This category includes churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies, as well as other government-registered charities. If you’re unsure whether or not the IRS approves the organization you want to assist, use the Exempt Organization Select Check tool to find out.
  • Your monetary gifts must be supported by a bank record (such as a canceled check, which shows the name of the organization and the date and amount of your gift) or a written statement from the charity. Gifts made by payroll deduction qualify if they’re supported by a pay stub, W-2 or letter from your employer indicating the charity and amount given.
  • In addition, if your monetary gift is $250 or more, ask for an official acknowledgment from the charity, indicating whether you received any goods or benefit from your gift.
  • Non-cash household goods valued at $500 or less qualify only if the condition is good or better. If valued at $500 or more, plan to provide a qualified appraisal with your return.
  • If you’re giving a large item—such as a car, boat, or airplane—to charity, special rules apply for when and how much deduction you can take.
  • Your year-end gift is deductible in the year you make it. If you use a credit card for your donation in late December but don’t pay the credit card bill until January, your donation counts the day you make it—not the day you pay your credit card bill. This rule is also true if you mail a check and it’s postmarked in December but not cashed until January—you can claim it for a 2014 donation.

Many organizations depend on donor support during this season of giving so be generous—but be wise, so you gain the benefits due to you as well.

If you need help deciding how much to give or answering other tax planning questions, get in touch!  Contact Patrick & Robinson CPAs at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400.

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