Category: Finding Deductions
An Overview of Deductions for Gifts to Charity
You can deduct contributions or gifts that you may have made to various organizations during the tax year. Qualifying contributions can be made in cash, property (such as clothing, furniture, household items, or vehicles), or out-of-pocket expenses (such as mileage) you paid to do volunteer work for a qualifying organization. For more information on qualified contributions, please review Publication 526
If you did make any qualifying contributions to charitable organizations during the tax year, you can enter these under: Federal Section > Deductions > Enter Myself > Itemized Deductions > Gifts to Charity.
Organizations that Qualify
You can deduct contributions or gifts you gave to organizations that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose. You can also deduct what you gave to organizations that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals.
If you made a contribution, but are not sure if the organization qualifies as charitable, you can either:
- Check with the organization that you contributed to. (They should be able to provide you with verification of their charitable status.)
- Call the IRS Tax Exempt/Government Entities Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500. They are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.
Gifts of $250 or more:
You can deduct a gift of $250 or more ONLY if you have a statement from the charitable organization showing:
- The amount of any money contributed and a description (but not value) of any property donated.
- Whether the organization did or did not give you any goods or services in return for your contribution. If you did receive any goods or services, the estimated value and description of what was received must be listed.
In figuring whether a gift is $250 or more, do not combine separate donations. For example, if you gave your church $25 each week for a total of $1300, treat each $25 contribution as a separate gift. Or if you gave an organization 3 separate gifts of $100, treat each gift separately. For cases such as these, because you treat each gift as a separate gift, you would NOT be required to have the statement as described above.
Gifts from which you benefit:
If you gave a gift or contribution and received a benefit in return (such as food, merchandise, entertainment, or services), you can generally only deduct the amount that is more than the value of the benefit.
Example: You paid $100 to a qualifying charitable organization to attend a fund-raising dinner. The value of the dinner and entertainment was $40. You should include in your deduction $60 ($100 - $40 = $60).
Non-cash Gifts or Contributions:
Generally, if you made non-cash contributions, such as clothing, furniture, household items, or vehicles, to a qualifying organization, you can deduct the value of that property. If you gave used items, you should only deduct the fair market value at the time you gave them. “Fair market value” means what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller if neither is in a position that they MUST buy or sell, and both are aware of the conditions of the sale.
Gifts you CANNOT deduct:
You cannot deduct any of the following expenses or contributions you may have made during the tax year:
- Travel expenses (including meals and lodging) while away from home. You can only deduct these if there was no significant element of pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel.
- Political contributions.
- Dues, fees, or bills paid to country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, or similar groups.
- Cost of raffle, bingo, or lottery tickets. You may be able to deduct these as a “Miscellaneous Deduction”. For more information on that, you would need to reference IRS Publication 529.
- Cost of tuition. You may be able to deduct this as an Education Credit (located under the Credits Menu) or a Tuition and Fees Deduction (located under the Adjustments menu) if you received a 1098-T from the educational institution. For more information about this, please reference IRS Publication 970.
- Value of time or services.
- Value of blood given to a blood bank.
- Transfer of a future interest in tangible personal property.
- Gifts to individuals and groups that are done for personal profit.
- Gifts to foreign organizations.
- Gifts to organizations engaged in certain political activities that are of direct financial interest to your trade or business.
- Gifts to groups whose purpose is to lobby for changes in the laws.
- Gifts to civic leagues, social and sports clubs, labor unions, and chambers of commerce.
- Value of benefits received in connection with a contribution to a charitable organization.